The dilemma of conducting research back in your own country as a returning student – reflections of research fieldwork in Zimbabwe

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The research process is more like finding one's way through a complex maze. ‘Home is where the heart is’, but foreign students face a number of problems upon their return home to do research. This paper chronicles the dilemma of a Zimbabwean student conducting fieldwork for his UK-based doctoral studies in his own country. The dilemmas were critical in that the fieldwork was undertaken during the ‘Zimbabwe crisis’ and the inherent problems of researching government-related organisations. This has a bearing on any research process and invokes use of the etic/emic dilemma. This paper contributes to the gaps and growing literature on methods and techniques for conducting qualitative research in human geography.

Keywords: Rural District Council; Zimbabwe; case study; etic/emic dilemma; qualitative research; triangulation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences (Faculty of Science), University of Cape Town, South Africa, Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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