Fieldwork stories: negotiating positionality, power and purpose

L. Bourke, Jessica Paula Rose Thorn, N. Chisonga, J. Clarke, F. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fieldwork in the social sciences is, by its nature, a messy and complicated
process. Human relationships established between researcher and participants
must be forged and maintained across social boundaries. Notions of
difference, perceived through our bodies as they interact with other bodies,
can often complicate these experiences in the ‘field’. Because of this, it is
important that we remain aware of the effects our own positionalities can
have on our research, as demonstrated in the experiences described in this
article. Coming to terms with our own privileged identities, be it class, race,
gender, nationality or educational background, in peripheral contexts, has
demanded a degree of introspection from each of us. Many of us have often
questioned our own legitimacy in the field and find ourselves wondering
what right we have to enter communities and write about lived realities that
we ourselves often do not experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95
Number of pages105
JournalFeminist Africa
Issue number95-105
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Cite this