Localization in the Study of War and Peace

Ethical and methodological considerations for researching violent conflict
  • Event date:
    26th April 2023 13:00 GMT Standard Time
  • Format:

Debates on elevating research in non-Western contexts have pointed out the disconnect between Western, and non-Western theoretical, epistemological and methodological domains, and how this is manifested in knowledge building practices. This disconnect is largely an outcome of continued power disparities between researchers from the global North and those from the global South - one study found that between 2008 and 2017, less than 3% of 947 articles in four international journals were written by scholars based in the global South. This absence has serious ramifications beyond the academic space as research developed by scholars from the global North gets drawn upon to shape international and regional interventions especially in fragile and conflict-affected contexts.

To address this structural gap, much more transformational thinking is needed with a focus on the intersection between power on the one hand, and knowledge production on the other, in research on war and peace. Through a collaboration between NatCen International, the global arm of the National Centre for Social Research in London, and the United States Institute of Peace, we are convening a series of roundtable discussions to interrogate assumptions around the ethics, rigour and adequacy of approaches of conducting research in non-Western contexts, focusing on conflict-affected and fragile contexts, to identify pathways towards improved practice in international research.

Qualitative Methods: Localizing Methodologies in Research and Evaluation

This roundtable discussion, the second in the series, will investigate the ways qualitative researchers and evaluators continue to liberate and bring equity into their understanding of and approach to research and evaluation.

The first roundtable of the series carved an immediate agenda centred on understanding and capturing how the dominant frameworks in research engage with power dynamics in knowledge production.

The discussion will address the following: first, how qualitative research methods and their application can be a site for power inequities and what that means for researchers working on fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Second, how qualitative researchers from across the academic and policy landscape can navigate the challenges of questioning power hierarchies. The panelists will draw on their personal experiences thinking through these challenges and applying them in their work.

In addition, this roundtable will engage with the following questions:

  • What constitutes localizing or inclusive approaches in qualitative research?
  • How do qualitative approaches, such as participatory methods and action research, attempt to account for equity and inclusion in knowledge production?
  • What are the challenges and obstacles that prohibit/inhibit the application of more inclusive methods by qualitative researchers and evaluators?
  • What processes or individual practices do qualitative researchers and evaluators have in place to ensure that their previous work informs future activities that are more attentive to inclusive approaches to knowledge generation?

This roundtable will include a panel of qualitative researchers and evaluators based in the global North and global South who will draw on their experiences and their engagement with power and equity in their research and work.

For any questions regarding the series, please reach out to the hosts at

Sherine.McCarthy@natcen.ac.uk and Stombe@usip.org

To confirm your attendance, please email events@natcen.ac.uk


  • Sherine El Taraboulsi–McCarthy
    Director, NatCen International National Centre for Social Research
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    Sherine is the Director of NatCen International where she leads a team of senior experts and researchers dedicated to shaping global social policy and practice. She is widely acknowledged as an expert in humanitarian and development policy, conflict, security and evidence uptake with a focus on the UK, Africa and the Middle East. Sherine has two decades of experience in leading and delivering on complex research projects and consortia as well as providing policy advice at a senior level to governments, donors and civil society organizations on their engagement in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. 

    Prior to establishing NatCen International, Sherine was a Senior Research Fellow at ODI where she launched and co-led a cross-institutional initiative on peace and sustainability in the Mediterranean region. Earlier in her career, she set up a research unit on regional philanthropy and civic engagement at the American University in Cairo. Sherine has held fellowships at Keble College at the University of Oxford, the Department of Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean at the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’ and the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia. She has also been a guest lecturer at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Cranfield University in England as well as the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies in Qatar. Her work can be found in the International Review of the Red Cross, the Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East, Development in Practice as well as book chapters in edited volumes with Palgrave Macmillan and James Currey. 

    Sherine holds a DPhil from the Department of International Development and St. Cross College at the University of Oxford.

  • Chandré Gould
    Senior Researcher Institute for Security Studies
    Chandré Gould is a Senior Research Fellow in the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). She has a PhD from Rhodes University. Since 2006 her work has focused on violence prevention and criminal justice in South Africa. Chandré is the author of numerous books, monographs and articles on subjects ranging from biological weapons control to human trafficking and crime and violence prevention.
  • Mareike Schomerus
    Vice President Busara Center in Nairobi
    Dr Mareike Schomerus is Vice President at Busara in Nairobi. Prior to her current post, she was the Research Director of the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) and Director of Programme Politics and Governance at ODI in London. Mareike is an expert on conducting research in conflict-affected contexts, and is author of The Lord’s Resistance Army. She is a member of the African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE) and the Conflict Research Society (CRS), and received a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Sofya Shahab
    Research Fellow Institute of Development Studies in Sussex
    Sofya is an IDS Research Fellow in Power and Popular Politics and an AHRC/DCMS Policy Fellow in International Cultural Heritage Protection. Sofya’s research employs anthropological approaches to understand the lived experiences of conflict, violence, migration and oppression in the Middle East and Central Asia, predominantly Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Afghanistan. She holds a PhD from Deakin University, Melbourne and has a background in in Cultural Anthropology and Critical Heritage Studies.
  • Chloe Skinner
    Researcher Power and Popular Politics Cluster at IDS
    Chloe Skinner is a post-doctoral researcher in the Power and Popular Politics Cluster at IDS. Her research interests transect and weave together intersectional feminism and queer theory, embodiment and affect, coloniality – specifically the material and epistemological dimensions of settler colonial violence – and the broader context of backlash amid intersecting global crises. Before joining IDS, Chloe worked for Airwars and Drone Wars as a researcher and was an activist in Palestine for two years previous to this work. Her PhD examined the gendered politics of settler colonialism with specific focus on masculinities across the divided yet relational contexts of Israeli militarism and occupied Palestine. Chloe now works on the Countering the Backlash: Reclaiming Gender Justice programme at IDS.


  • Sandra Tombe
    Research Program Officer U.S. Institute of Peace
    Dr Sandra Poni Tombe is Research Program Officer on the Learning, Evaluation, and Research team at the United States Institute of Peace, where she focuses on supporting research, strengthening research ethics, and promoting the use of evidence in programming. Her research interests center on transnational mobilization, transnational violent networks, and transnational peacebuilding. Dr Tombe recently received her PhD in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School at George Mason University. Employing a comparative mixed methods design and drawing on network theory and methods, her dissertation examines the transnational mobilization of diaspora communities from Cameroon and South Sudan by violent non-state actors operating beyond the borders of the state of origin. Dr Tombe received her BA in International Relation and French from Berea College, and MA in French from the University of Louisville.