Practical Ethics: How US Law and the “War on Terror” Affect Research in the Middle East

Parkinson, Sarah Elizabeth


Article written by 2008 DPDF Muslim Modernities Fellow and 2009 IDRF Program Fellow Sarah Elizabeth Parkinson, featured in The Ethics of Research in the Middle East, sponsored by The Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS):

Scholars of the Middle East are likely familiar with ethical debates surrounding topics such as Minerva funding and the U.S. military’s Human Terrain System program.1 Put briefly, these conversations deliberate the extent to which individual scholars and academia as a whole should align with U.S. government interests, specifically regarding security and defense policy.2 Yet discussions regarding these two programs mask a deeper dialogue that scholars of the Middle East should have regarding the ways that U.S. law and politics interact with their research designs, data practices, and interactions with subjects. How should the “War on Terror” and related legal structures affect researcher positionality and reflexivity, both in the field and “back home”? More broadly, how should U.S. law and politics affect researcher ethics?