EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ON THE CONDUCT OF AN ‘ON-GOING’ ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES AROUND THE WUPA RIVER IN THE FCT, ABUJA, NIGERIA
One area that has continued to experience the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is the academic community. In particular, teaching and research activities have been halted, modified, shifted, or moved from physical to virtual platforms to cope with the effect of the pandemic. This paper examines how the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic is reshaping the conduct of ongoing ethnographic research in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, Nigeria. Traditional ethnography entails living with the people being studied, learning their language, or using an interpreter/gatekeeper, participating in their daily activities while studying and observing them. Modern ethnography has accommodated lots of changes as ethnographers do not just study indigenous cultures alone, but also cultures in modern societies, groups, institutions, cities among others. The major challenge faced by researchers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is the inability to continue with the application of the pre-COVID-19 research design such as participant observation and interacting with the participants physically as earlier conceived. Other issues are an elongation of the time-frame for data collection, limited access to study participants, disruptions of segments of the research, inability to acquire adequate information as a result of global and national lockdowns, modifications in the method of instrument administration, fear of contracting the virus, and so on. The paper concludes by emphasizing the need for flexibility in the application of research designs to accommodate unforeseen circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic.