This paper reflects on some of the methodological challenges I was faced with during my recent fieldwork in refugee camps along the Balkan Route. In particular, I will discuss the difficulties related to the application of conventional research methods in a context largely determined by “irregular” mobilities and by changing relationships between formal and informal camps. In-depth interviews, go-along interviews, participant observation, and other methods were crucially affected by the camp context, including its visible and invisible structures of power. After briefly discussing the role played by the Serbian authorities in defining our work in “the field,” the article analyses how doing fieldwork in this specific context required endless methodological adjustments, especially when it concerned our encounters with refugees living in camps and the necessity to take into full account the precarious conditions in which interviews took place. The second part of the article, focused in particular on the methodological implications of working in refugee makeshift camps, interrogates the reliability of the information obtained under such peculiar conditions and the ethical concerns associated with our positioning when visiting informal refugee encampments along the Balkan Route. Questions related to the study of makeshift camps will also be analysed together with the need to adapt (often, “on site”) our methods to “camp circumstances” and to produce potential counter-cartographies of refugee informal mobilities.
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- camp methodology
- informal mobilities
- makeshift camps
- refugee Balkan Route