Saturday, March 26, 2016

Data Day!

Yesterday was the ‘big day’ for my ethnographic fieldwork in Lebanon: a full-day workshop with the entire Media Association for Peace team. We did a participatory stakeholder analysis, as I did with Dar Si Hmad in Morocco and the Dive Team in Kuwait. I lead the volunteers and staff members through a series of exercises thinking about their projects and goals, the various people/groups/institutions/things involved in or affected by their work, and how it all fits together. For me, the analysis creates data about the purpose of and power influencing environmental peacebuilding projects. For my research partners, it’s a chance to think holistically about their organisation and reflect on why they do what they do – and how they might do it better.

That took up the morning. After a shared buffet lunch of Lebanon’s best Asian takeaway (which, sadly, pales in comparison to the offerings in London, but was lovely nonetheless), we moved into a learning session on environmental peacebuilding. We did some environmental peacebuilding theory based on my PhD literature review; a few of the team’s researchers presented a report on the links between the environment, peace, and the media; and we created working definitions for the various intersecting concepts.

I got loads and loads of lovely data; I’m hopeful that my partners weren’t lying when they said it was useful for them as well.

And, it must be said…this all happened on Good Friday. When we were searching for a date that worked for everyone, I don’t think any of us quite noticed that. But there it is. an unusual way to spend what is a national holiday in Lebanon: the other organisations whose space we share didn’t come in, and everyone with a ‘normal’ job was off, including the university students. As it stands, though, it was rather poignant for me on a personal level. As I posted on Facebook last evening:

This Good Friday, a group of young journalists in the Middle East gave up their national holiday to do a six-hour focus group on environmental peacebuilding for my research.

This weekend, Christians around the world are commemorating Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, celebrating how death and sorrow give way to life and joy.

This week and every week, the amazing multi-faith members of the MAP are working to make sure that the trauma of conflict and the violence of injustice are reshaped to create opportunities for dialogue and understanding.

I cannot imagine a more meaningful beginning to this Easter weekend. Working with young people who grew up and live in the active warzones of Lebanon and Yemen, yet still believe in and strive for peace, is an awe-inspiring thing. Thank you all for your commitment to each other, to your work, and to our shared world. You give me hope. From grief and pain shall come gladness and laughter. 

So, thanks much to MAP for being yet another fantastic research partner! I have truly been spoiled in my fieldwork and data collection. I have one more month in Lebanon, during which I will be conducting a few more interviews and helping to prepare their First National Conference on Media, Peace, and the Environment. Exciting times ahead!! :)

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