On 25—28 June 2018, the University of the Witwatersrand hosted a conference entitled ‘Enslavement, Conflict and Forced Marriage in Africa: Methods, Ethics, and Knowledge Production’.
The conference was held under the auspices of Conjugal Slavery In War (CSiW), a partnership for the study of enslavement, marriage and masculinities, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.
The convenors were Prof Joel Quirk, a Senior Associate Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation at the University of Warwick, and Head of the Department of Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand; and Annie Bunting, Associate Professor in the Law & Society programme at York University in Toronto.
Bunting is the CSiW project director, and York University its host institution. The Department of Political Studies at Wits University is one of a number of project partners on several continents. While the SSHRC was the primary conference funder, JIAS provided additional support.
The conference focused on the different ways in which knowledge of patterns of enslavement, conflict and marriage in sub-Saharan Africa have been – and should be — collected and disseminated. It took place in both French and English (with simultaneous translations).
The CSiW network encompasses academics and practitioners working on questions related to forced marriage in war, broadly defined, across six countries in Africa, namely the DRC, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda. The main goal of the project is to explore different methods for undertaking research into patterns of gender-based violence in both conflict and post-conflict settings in Africa.
This includes reflection on the challenges associated with undertaking research which provides reliable and accurate information, ethically capturing and representing experiences of violence, trauma, vulnerability and stigma, and analysing the ways in which research findings can be influenced by funding streams, political calculations, and different target audiences.