Whether, when, and how: disclosing (sensitive) data in emergency research and documentation projects

Warsaw, 14.09.2023, 18.00, CET, Zoom

Whether, when, and how: disclosing (sensitive) data in emergency research and documentation projects

“Testimonies from the War” Research Seminar Series

In emergency research and documentation projects, researchers should and usually pay special attention to the issues of their informants and data safety. Participants are carefully chosen and granted anonymity, data are stored in a safe place and access to this data is more or less restricted. At the same time, the aim of this kind of projects is not only to listen to the stories of people who participate in crisis and preserve them but also to give them a voice and bring the message they carry to the wider public.

That was also the case of our project focused on documenting the Ukrainian experience of the Russian invasion and the following flight and refugeedom. Stories we recorded needed to be gathered ethically and preserved safely, but in the end, they were to be disclosed so that the world could hear them. Yet, when we started this project in March 2022, we all saw “in the end” as the end of the full-scale invasion. A year and a half after the war started, there is no obvious and quick “end” on the horizon and the principles of data sharing and disclosure need to be reconsidered, as several doubts arise.

When is the right moment to disclose the data concerning the ongoing conflict? Who should decide whether, when and how – the researchers themselves, the ethical bodies that control their professional activity, the funding agencies that demand tangible results, the interviewees or the wider public? Each of these parties might have different and often contradictory expectations. The situation might be different for data gathered in the country where the crisis is taking place and in the country which hosts a refugee population.

During this seminar, we would like to discuss these issues in the context of interviews recorded in Poland and Ukraine, but we also want to broaden the scope of the discussion by including the case of Belarus, where the repressions towards the opposition are still taking place and where not only conducting but also disclosing of any qualitative research is extremely difficult.

More about the “Testimonies from the War” project

Seminar’s speakers:

Dr. Iryna Kashtalian is a historian from Belarus. She graduated from the Belarusian State University in Minsk in 2001. In 2011, she founded the Belarusian Archive of Oral History with colleagues. Since December 2021 she works as a visiting scholar at the University of Bremen. Main research interests: Second World War and Holocaust in the occupied Soviet Union, Soviet post-war history, Soviet repression, history of everyday life, oral history research. She is author of the monograph: “The Repressive Factors of USSR’s internal policy and everyday life of Belarusian society” (Wiesbaden, 2016); author of didactic materials on Minsk ghetto, different groups of war victims. Current research project: Political emigration from Belarus since 1996.

Natalia Otrishchenko is a research fellow at the Center for Urban History in Lviv. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology with a focus on “methodology and methods of sociological research” from the Institute of Sociology at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (2015). Since March 2022, Natalia leads the Ukrainian team within “24/02/22, 5 am” international documentation initiative. In 2022-23, she was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Sociology Department, Columbia University; during March 2023, she is staying at ZZF (Potsdam) as a visiting scholar.

Anna Wylegała is a sociologist and Assistant Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences.. She is the author of two monographs: “Displaced Memories: Remembering and Forgetting in Post-War Poland and Ukraine” (2019) and “Był dwór, nie ma dworu. Reforma rolna w Polsce” (2021), and co-editor (with Małgorzata Głowacka-Grajper) of “The Burden of the Past: History and Identity in Contemporary Ukraine” (2020) and “No Neighbors’ Lands in Postwar Europe: Vanishing Others” (with Małgorzata Łukianow and Sabine Rutar). She is a coordinator of the “Testimonies from the War” project in Poland.


Małgorzata Łukianow is a sociologist and an Assistant Professor at the Center for Research on Social Memory at the Department of Sociology of the University of Warsaw, Poland. Her work situated at the intersection of the sociology of culture, memory studies, and the sociology of knowledge. She is a researcher in the “24/02/22, 5 am: Testimonies from the War” project in Poland.

Please register at: publicrelations@ifispan.edu.pl to receive a zoom meeting link and participate in the seminar.

The seminar is organized by the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, in partnership with the Mieroszewski Center and Polish Oral History Association.

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