Arrived in Kuala Lumpur

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur safely. My first impressions of the city are very positive: big, modern, and clean city with a great diversity of peoples, cultures, and cuisines. My hotel serves several types of breakfasts: continental, American, Malay, Indian, and Chinese reflecting the backgrounds of the hotel guests and locals. The staff is equally diverse, including Burmese and Sri Lankan refugees. Malaysia is not a signatory of the Refugee Convention and refugees do not have the right to work. They do work, however, illegally and for very little money; less than $200 a month. Reportedly their working conditions border on forced labor.

I have reunited with my research partner, Avie, a Georgetown alumna and my former student. We have not seen each other since her graduation from a master’s program in the School of Foreign service in 2008, but did not lack things to talk about, including Avie’s plans to get a Ph.D. in anthropology!

Tomorrow we will be training seven refugee research assistants in research ethics, informed consent and confidentiality issues as well as ethnographic interviews. I usually include some discussion of the historical antecedents of current research ethics requirements in my training. I wonder whether discussions of the Nuremberg Code of 1947 and the Belmont Report of 1979 can be conveyed not only cross-culturally but also generationally.

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