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Where are you really from?: representation, identity and power in the fieldwork experiences of a South Asian diasporic

By Marsha Henry


Feminist accounts of fieldwork have often been concerned with issues of representation, both of the researched and the researcher, exposing some of the complications that arise when the researcher must make critical decisions about representing herself to her research participants. These accounts demonstrate that a fieldworker's identity does in fact impact upon the research process and product, challenging notions of researcher objectivity and neutrality. I contribute to feminist debates by complicating the process of representation and the power and problem of naming; identity and its impact upon the research process; and the field as a place of complex power structures, which can produce questions that seem all too familiar. One of the questions raised in relation to representation, identity and the field is one that I have been asked virtually all my life, but which has different meanings in different contexts. My research participants often asked, `where are you really from?' This question in the context of the feminist literature on methodology has enabled me to analyse some of the difficulties and problems I faced in doing fieldwork and to develop a different conceptualization of the research process and research participants. Finally, it has also demonstrated some of the difficulties that our current and limited language of race, ethnicity and nationality pose for first generation South Asian researchers

Topics: HM Sociology
Publisher: Sage Publications
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1177/14687941030032005
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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