Improvising Ethics? A Collaborative Autoethnographic Account of the Challenges Faced when doing Fieldwork in Zimbabwe


  • Farai Maunganidze University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Shaun Ruggunan University of KwaZulu-Natal



Migration, ethics, higher education institutions, Zimbabwe


There are many challenges faced by scholars when designing research that is ethically compliant. These include issues of consent, confidentiality, and how to give feedback to participants, for example. However less is known about how non-South African researchers, specifically Zimbabwean doctoral students, navigate ethical dilemmas when conducting their fieldwork whilst being registered in South African universities. This gap is especially concerning given the high number of Zimbabwean doctoral students in South Africa. This paper poses the following questions: (1) What are the challenges encountered by a Zimbabwean doctoral student doing fieldwork in Zimbabwe whilst being supervised in a South African university? (2) How can these challenges be mitigated? In answering these questions, the paper uses a collaborative autoethnographic approach to empirically ground its arguments. The paper argues that South Africa’s higher education institutions have a duty to ensure research integrity of its students even if those students are conducting fieldwork outside South African borders. We observe that there is often a disconnect between formal ethical administrative processes and what actually happens on the ground. Potential solutions are to increase the autonomy and improvisation of students and supervisors in overseeing and doing research in these contexts.


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31-12-2021 — Updated on 31-12-2021


How to Cite

Maunganidze, F. . and Ruggunan, S. . (2021) “Improvising Ethics? A Collaborative Autoethnographic Account of the Challenges Faced when doing Fieldwork in Zimbabwe”, African Journal of Inter/Multidisciplinary Studies, pp. 38–50. doi: 10.51415/ajims.v3i1.969.