Fwd: Zapotec Indigenous People in Mexico Demand Tansparency from U.S. Scholar
- Folks on osag, I receive the mail going to Waterbury who works in Oaxaca with the Welte Institute, devoted largely to anthropology. I receive the Welte mail, and so I am forwarding selected interactions on their part, regarding "scholarly ethics" vis a vis the land mapping. Academic approach!!!, but interesting to me.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Camille Antinori <antinori@...>
Date: Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 1:07 PM
Subject: Re: Zapotec Indigenous People in Mexico Demand Tansparency from U.S. Scholar
To: Ronald Waterbury <ronoax@...>
Cc: Estudios Oaxaqueños <oaxaca@...>, MexicanRuralDevelopment <s-mrd@...>
This is quite a story. I do not know the researcher, but I have done extensive fieldwork in this region of Oaxaca before and can tell you how we handled it. Before I even left the US, I had to present a full statement and description of the research project to the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) here on campus at the University of California. All research here comes under its purview. Failure to do so could have jeopardized my use of any data I collected. Even though the committee was conceived mainly for lab testing, more enthusiastic managers have since come on board. Even a survey aimed at the relatively "harmless" subject of timber production and internal governance had to be approved. Any potential risk - political, physical, etc... - to any persons had to be explained and addressed. Even though the survey data asks things that most everyone in the local vicinity knows anyway, we offered a number of safeguards for privacy and use of the data:
-Total confidentiality. No names of communities or persons are used in reporting the results. Rather, a protected coding system is used (yes, we had to explain how we would protect the codes). The data is aggregated when we report results.
-We presented a complete and thorough letter of introduction, including origin of the project, persons involved, funding sources, how the data would be used, and contact information with both a local contact and the number in California (I have been called from Mexico to be checked on). They could refuse or stop the survey interview any time.
In the pitch, we often reiterated that this project was not part of government-sponsored research and that the data would not be used directly for a government program - only to inform policymaking in the future. This visibly reassured a number of folks when we said this and clarified at least one point. However, at times it also disappointed a few who were hoping for a link to future funding through government programs.
I also went back to Oaxaca post-dissertation and presented main results to community representatives at a SEMARNAT meeting. We are also hoping, in the latest round of surveys in Durango and Michoacan, to go back and present mini-folletos or brief reports summarizing the main points of interest there. This follow-up reporting is often a function of time, money and motivation of the researchers because much research funding is not oriented to this end of research, though that may be changing.
A somewhat onerous process. Not all researchers obviously can treat the information in the same way, due to various reasons. But on the whole I think it was a good approach. Full disclosure was the least we could do and completely justified, in my opinion. Has anyone else used these guidelines for their research? Does anyone else come from a research institution with a similar committee?
Looking forward to comments,
At 09:46 AM 1/28/2009, Ronald Waterbury wrote:
Zapotec Indigenous People in Mexico Demand Tansparency from U.S. Scholar