Round table: MSF & Documenting History – One Approach to Research, Methodologies, & Education on Humanitarian Dilemmas

The Speaking Out Case Studies (SOCS) project emphasises speaking out as a core activity of the MSF movement. In these studies, key information sources – MSF volunteers’ written and oral recollections – are reconstructed by highlighting archive documents, press articles and videos from the period concerned and interviewing the main actors involved. The methodology aims at establishing the facts and setting out a chronological presentation of the positions adopted at the time. It enables the reconstruction of debates and dilemmas. When documentation is missing, interviews sometimes fill the gaps. These accounts also provide a human perspective on the events and insight into the key players’ analysis. In what ways does primary source data guide the narrative? The studies are intended to build knowledge and document memory, yet what about the reliability of stakeholder’s memories?

This roundtable will elaborate on the SOCS research methodology, pedagogy, research oversight of an independent editorial committee, how case studies are chosen for their humanitarian dilemmas, and how the reconstruction of internal MSF debates, representation of competing voices, and intensive focus on dilemmas are narrated without judging the quality of decisions made or creating bias and how this can be done using a case study approach versus a guided or guidelines methodology. The panel will further investigate how digital archives are accessed and how multi-media and e-learning tools (podcasts, synchronous and asynchronous thematic modules, reading grids, etc.) are researched and developed for broader access to SOCS materials both internally and externally for humanitarian practitioners to use and for academic institutions to instruct on the articulation of speaking out with humanitarian interventions and the associated ambiguities?


Rebecca Golden Timsar & Laurence Binet

Date and Time

Can be found in the Conference Programme