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Seminar leader: Catherine Gilbert 

Catherine conducted fieldwork in Rwanda in 2012 during her PhD and again in 2018 as part of a Marie Curie Fellowship. She is currently working with Rwandan diasporic communities living in Belgium, France and the UK. Originally trained as a literary studies scholar, Catherine now adopts a range of ethnographic methods in her research. These include: semi-structured interviews with community members, writers, performers, leaders of survivor organisations, and people working in the NGO, charity and education sectors; site visits; participant observation. Her current research project, ‘Genocide Commemoration in the Rwandan Diaspora’, investigates the impact of place and displacement on commemorative practices within diasporic communities, with a particular focus on cultural memory, trauma and narrative. The session focuses on how the researcher confronts and manages the challenging experiences s/he encounters while conducting fieldwork in a post-conflict context, paying particular attention to the importance of self-care as a researcher.

Key publications:

Catherine Gilbert, From Surviving to Living: Voice, Trauma and Witness in Rwandan Women’s Writing (Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2018)

Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro, On Commemoration: Global Reflections upon Remembering War (Peter Lang, 2020).

Recommended reading:

Jessee, Erin, “Managing Danger in Oral Historical Fieldwork”, Oral History Review 44.2 (2017), 322–347.

Markowitz, Ariana, “The Better to Break and Bleed With: Research, Violence, and Trauma”, Geopolitics (2019),

This session has been organised by the Institute’s Fieldwork and Modern Languages working group, chaired by Claire Griffiths ( The sessions are free and open to researchers at all levels in the UK and beyond, but advance registration is essential. Please contact Naomi Wells ( for more general questions about the IMLR's research training programme.

All are welcome to attend this free event. You will need to register in advance to receive the online event joining link, using the Book Now button below.

Download guidance on how to participate in an online event (pdf)