A recent article in this journal discusses ways to manage uncertainty when the research field abruptly and significantly changes on researchers working inside their own society (Kacen & Chaitin, 2006). Our essay extends this discussion by asking: How do researchers manage ambiguous, conflictual, and rapidly changing events when they engage in study outside their own society? We describe three aspects of our data collection experience that coincidentally began one week before the Urumqi city, Xinjiang, China, riots of 2009 in which over 200 people were reported as killed and several thousand injured: (a). our original research agenda and the uncertain situation in Xinjiang in recent years; (b). how we modified our research project and approach to data collection; and (c). what we learned that can contribute to knowledge about conducting research under ambiguous, potentially unstable and rapidly changing socio-political conditions.


Research and Context, Racial Tension and Conflict, China, Ethnic Minorities

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