Narratives of Young Refugees in Germany: Chances and Challenges for Ethical Conduct

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Hella VON UNGER, LMU University of Munich, Germany
Given the increase of migration to Germany in recent years, more research is needed on the situation of refugees. Research with refugees encompasses many ethical challenges given the vulnerability of the group including the possibility of re-/traumatization when narrating experiences and life histories. Yet refugees may wish to tell their story in order to bear witness, have a “voice” and change both the situation as well as the perception of their group in the host society. This paper describes a qualitative interview study conducted with 31 young refugees (age 17-24) in collaboration with the city of Munich in 2016-2017. Ethical challenges included procedures of written informed consent, questions of voluntary participation, dealing with emotions and precarious life circumstances (such as participants’ fear of detention), careful handling of sensitive information, strategies of anonymizing the data and issues of interpretation. Furthermore, a more general aim was to meet the “dual imperative” of refugee research, an ethical standard which implies that research with refugees should meet both highest scientific standards and produce useful results to benefit the group itself and/or policies directed at the situation. The paper discusses how the ethical challenges were met in the current study and draws conclusions for research with refugees, in particular qualitative, biographical research with young refugees.