Reflexivity, Positionality, and Power: Thinking Through Ethnographic Studies From Middle Eastern Field Settings

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


To examine the conditions of knowledge production, reflexivity is an essential methodological tool of post-positivist research notably used by critical and feminist researchers. However, in recent years, reflexive research accounts have heavily become self-telling and often been limited to concerns of issues of insiderness/outsiderness in the analysis of the relationship between the researcher and the researched. Building upon a strong body of feminist and methodological literature on reflexivity, positionality, subjectivity and power, this paper critically analyses the usefulness of the binary categories of insider/outsider. Specifically, we aim at reflecting upon two issues. First, we want to go beyond the binary opposition between being either the outsider researcher or the insider participant by arguing that both researchers and participants shift across identities and multiple boundaries in entering and leaving the field, as well as in the sharing and collecting of data. Second, we suggest that an intersubjective and intersectional reading of the relations between the researcher and the researched in our reflexive research accounts can also be used as data to deepen our understanding about the formations and fluidity of Middle Eastern identities, communities, and politics. This complex methodological reading adds an important perspective to the analysis by situating and capturing the socio-political content and context of our research.
In this paper, we take ‘the field’ as the starting point for our methodological analysis, and we draw on our own ethnographic fieldwork experiences in Turkey and in the Kurdish Region in Iraq. One study is taking place among Iranian queer refugees in the transit migratory space of Turkey and the other is situated in the Kurdish Region in Iraq among university students. Common for both feminist ethnographic studies is the focus on everyday lives and how these are organized around lines of race/ethnicity, class, gender, generation, and sexuality


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch
EventFourth World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES), 2014 - METU, Ankara, Turkey
Duration: 2014 Aug 182014 Aug 22


ConferenceFourth World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES), 2014