A Critique of Positionality in Critical Ethnography

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Zeliha ETOZ, Ankara University, Faculty of Political Sciences, Turkey
Yagmur DONMEZ, Gaziosmanpaşa University, Turkey
In this study we focus on positionality of ethnographers. We know that some have discussed the meaning of ‘the critical’ in critical ethnography, and criticized for its focus on social change but lack of focus on researchers own positionality. According to Noblit at all. (2004) “[c]ritical ethnographers must explicitly consider how their acts of studying and representing people and situations are acts of domination even critical ethnographers reveal the same in what they study” (cf. Madison, 2005:7) This urges us the tense nature of positionality including double critics of the notion of objectivity and the notion of subjectivity. Although positionality must not be confused with subjectivity, our presentation mainly comprise a discussion on subjectivity reflecting upon researchers own power position. We already aim at discussing the tension about positionality in terms of our participant observation conducted in a bar where mostly gays go, but also which lgbti and a few heterosexuals take part. Our experiences were challenging because some guys touched us up a few times, After then we quite discussed whether it was called a harassment or not in sheltering our strategies coping with patriarchal structure as feminist women. Above all our discussion evolved to positionality of researcher in critical ethnography, that is, our positionality as ‘self-reflexivity’. This is a “turning back” on ourselves, which creates the occasion for us to change ourselves thanks to examination our own position of authority: a transformation of the relationship we have with our own knowledge, a knowledge of others. In this respect it is important to ask if there is a limit to elude power position and make desubjectivation possible. Is not a ‘re-contextualization’ necessary? Otherwise do not we keep even our power position in questioning it as well?