Positionality and transformative knowledge in conducting 'feminist' research on empowerment in Bangladesh
CitationNazneen, S., & Sultan, M. (2014). Positionality and transformative knowledge in conducting 'feminist' research on empowerment in bangladesh. Women's Studies International Forum, 45, 63-71. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2013.11.008
This article is based on the experiences and reflections of a group of researchers in Bangladesh (of which we were members) studying women's empowerment. We investigate the kinds of epistemological and ethical dilemmas that arose from how they selectively presented their identities to gain access and tried to create 'positional spaces' in conducting fieldwork. We also explore how these researchers engaged in co-production of knowledge with research participants and tried to balanced our multiple accountabilities in this process. By exploring these issues, we analyze assumptions about 'feminist' research practices and our struggles to live up to these. Based on this analysis we argue that there is scope for exploring individual identity based positionality in the following areas that are less studied in feminist methodology literature: a) how research dynamics are affected when participants are more powerful than [feminist] researchers, and b) the nature of discomforts that [feminist] researchers experience when they engage with participants who espouse to different gender ideologies. We also explore how transformative research is linked to co-production, politics of representation and processual reflexivity (i.e., how and by whom what kind of knowledge is produced; Nagar & Geiger, 2007). We argue that these issues have implications for how we research women's empowerment in developing country contexts.