Exploring researcher positionality in Social Science Fieldwork in Africa
Sub-theme: Special Topics
We invite panelists to consider the complexity of research positionality in social science fieldwork. Panelists are urged to consider the practical, theoretical, ethical, and methodological implications of their positionalities, with particular attention to issues related to race, class, and gender. Critical scholars across disciplines have been rightly wary of the concept of ‘the field’ with its latent connotations of otherness and backwardness, and its use to legitimate researcher and policy interventions. Recognizing the historical and contemporary complicity of academic practice in constructing and maintaining power binaries and hierarchies, we invite papers that reject the notion that the researcher is separate from or liminal to the field. Rather, we encourage panelists to interrogate their own positionalities and to explore ways in which their own data collection and knowledge production are relational and socially situated. Work like this is urgent and necessary not only in order to evaluate the personal lenses and experiences we bring to the field, but perhaps more importantly, to critically engage with how our research inheres in local communities, impacts our research participants and co-producers of knowledge, and transforms the spaces where these encounters occur. In so doing, researchers have the opportunity to frankly acknowledge both the limitations and privileges incumbent in our own positionalities. Please submit paper proposals via email to [email protected] and [email protected] by March 13, 2018.