Noah Schimmel’s article “Toward an Ethic of Friendship in Academic Research: A Reflection on Rwanda and Survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi” is centered around Rwandans disappointment with researchers who visit the country. These form temporary relationships with locals that are essential to their research, and then depart after some time with little to no follow-up or care for the people and communities they engaged with. What follows is a reflection on the role of friendship in academic research.
In the article, Noam suggests that “the bonds of friendship are bulwarks against the kind of objectification and instrumentalization that is all too common in academic research entailing fieldwork centered on engaging with individuals and communities. Friendship adds a dimension – both ethical and emotional – that can make research in both process and product more ethically and socially responsible, equitable, sensitive, responsive and consequential to locals generally and in this case study, Rwandan genocide survivors”. In particular, he argues that “academics would benefit from greater reflection about and commitment to friendship, by which I mean friendship not in sense of being more aggregable and pleasant, or even more social, (though all those are certainly positive) – but in the ethically and emotionally substantive sense of being more committed to friendship as an ethical practice of caring, commitment, and reciprocity, and one that should influence both the how of their research and the subjects to which it attends”.
To read Noam’s article, click here