Contemporary history of Luxembourg

How do researchers collect new sources? Interviewees in Oral History. The Voices of the War.

At the core of our data collection method in our project “Testimonies from the war” is collecting interviews with displaced population, forced to leave Ukraine because of the Russia’s invasion.
Interviewing is a qualitative method of data collection whose results are based on intensive engagement with respondents. In our case, the topic is forced migration and the change of peoples’ lives from 24th February till today.
Strategies for engaging interview participants.
Informing people about the project - utilizing institutions with a reputation for confidence; utilizing personal contacts: the "snowball" strategy
The uniqueness and difficulty of our project is, certainly, the fact that the war is ongoing, which raises ethical issues and sensitivities, and difficulties of building trust that are essential for conducting an interview.
Trust is composed of many different aspects.
First, it’s trust in an institution: to the authority of the Luxembourg university in the context of personal data protection; trust in the concept and mission of the project: create a collection which will help us to tell the story of our turbulent times; trust in the team that works on the project: this is the high scientific and personal reputation of the international research team, who have been actively involved in volunteer activities since the first days of the war. Some researchers are Ukrainians who also have temporary protection in Luxembourg. Some scholars from Ukraine already have many years of experience working at the University of Luxembourg.
Trust is a dynamic process. Some people need more time to be ready to share their story. It is the responsibility of the researcher to give them this time.
Invite the interviewee "not for an interview" - but to tell a personal story.
Ethical issues. Unified rules for the project consortium. Before searching for interview participants, we developed ground rules.The interviews are delayed by at least one month from the time the interviewee reaches the target country. Interviews should only be conducted with people who have given their informed consent. When recruiting interviewees through personal contacts, it is imperative to respect the principle of non-dependence between the researcher and the interviewee (the researcher may not record people who live at their home, their acquaintances, people they employ) in order to minimize pressure to consent to being recorded.
Personal experience: Finding Respondents: WHERE?
"Where to look for Ukrainians willing to be interviewed?"
I had to go out into the field and explore the landscape and fit in.
As a displaced person myself I joined other Ukrainians at a French course offered by the Luxembourg state in June and July and different events. There I met wonderful people from different professions and backgrounds. Over time, we talked about the project. People reacted with interest, but distrust. Some were not ready to be interviewed. Some expressed interest to be interviewed later.
Each communication was an experience, an opportunity to learn what needed to be improved, what to consider. One needs to remain sensitive to the potential interviewee and respect their wishes in being willing or not to recall and share their traumatic experiences.

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