Joining the conspiracy? Negotiating ethics and emotions in researching (around) AIDS in southern Africa

Ethics, Place and Environment 8 (1):61 – 82 (2005)
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is an emotive subject, particularly in southern Africa. Among those who have been directly affected by the disease, or who perceive themselves to be personally at risk, talking about AIDS inevitably arouses strong emotions - amongst them fear, distress, loss and anger. Conventionally, human geography research has avoided engagement with such emotions. Although the ideal of the detached observer has been roundly critiqued, the emphasis in methodological literature on 'doing no harm' has led even qualitative researchers to avoid difficult emotional encounters. Nonetheless, research is inevitably shaped by emotions, not least those of the researchers themselves. In this paper, we examine the role of emotions in the research process through our experiences of researching the lives of young AIDS migrants in Malawi and Lesotho. We explore how the context of the research gave rise to the production of particular emotions, and how, in response, we shaped the research, presenting a research agenda focused more on migration than AIDS. This example reveals a tension between universalised ethics expressed through ethical research guidelines that demand informed consent, and ethics of care, sensitive to emotional context. It also demonstrates how dualistic distinctions between reason and emotion, justice and care, global and local are unhelpful in interpreting the ethics of research practice
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/13668790500115706
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Robert Solomon (1997). In Defense of the Emotions (and Passions Too). Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 27 (4):489–497.

View all 6 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

16 ( #167,478 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #289,836 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.