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Methodology Matters in Iran

Researching Social Movements in Authoritarian Contexts

Paola Rivetti

Keywords: activism; co-research; fieldwork; Iran; methodology; social movements

Abstract

How can scholars conduct fieldwork in an authoritarian environment, engaging ‘dangerous’ topics such as social movements in Iran? How can they overcome the limitations imposed by the authoritarian state and win the trust of activists? This article reflects on the knowledge that scholars produce under such difficult circumstances, arguing that the deployment of non-mainstream research practices and methods can benefit the scholarship, exposing under-studied and overlooked aspects of the topic investigated. More specifically, the article elaborates on how methodological choices inform the knowledge we produce and how they can therefore be used to overcome structural limitations generating innovative and fairer scholarship.

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