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Chimiza Lamazhaa

This article discusses indigenous methodology in the context of Tuvan studies. Tuvan studies have a rich history, with significant contributions by local Tuvan researchers as well as Russian and foreign scholars. This article presents an overview of this research before, during, and after the Soviet period. The paper examines possible strengths and weaknesses of both “insider” (indigenous) and “outsider” research, with the consideration that these opposing categories are not so easily delineated. Through case studies describing the work and insights of the renowned Tuvan researcher Valentina Suzukei and the cultural “thesaurus” approach of Lukov and Lukov (2008), the article assesses the potential of indigenous methodology in the field of Tuvan studies.

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Methodology Matters in Iran

Researching Social Movements in Authoritarian Contexts

Paola Rivetti

How can scholars conduct fieldwork in an authoritarian environment, engaging ‘dangerous’ topics such as social movements in Iran? How can they overcome the limitations imposed by the authoritarian state and win the trust of activists? This article reflects on the knowledge that scholars produce under such difficult circumstances, arguing that the deployment of non-mainstream research practices and methods can benefit the scholarship, exposing under-studied and overlooked aspects of the topic investigated. More specifically, the article elaborates on how methodological choices inform the knowledge we produce and how they can therefore be used to overcome structural limitations generating innovative and fairer scholarship.

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Aziz Choudry

This article seeks to explore the work of activist researchers located in social movements, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and people’s organisations with close relations to contemporary progressive grassroots struggles in a number of countries, mainly in the global South. Drawing from extensive interviews with these researchers on their processes and practice of research and knowledge production, located outside of academic institutions and partnerships, it documents their understandings about the theoretical frameworks and methodologies they employ. This article thus foregrounds articulations of actual research practices from the perspectives of activist researchers themselves. In doing so, it suggests that social movement scholars can learn more about the intellectual work within movements, including the relations between theoretical and methodological approaches and action, from a deeper engagement with the work of activist researchers outside of academia.

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Elite ethnography in an insecure place

The methodological implications of “studying up” in Pakistan

Rosita Armytage

Based on ethnographic research conducted with the wealthiest and most powerful business owners and politicians in urban Pakistan from 2013 to 2015, this article examines the particular set of epistemological and interpersonal issues that arise when studying elite actors. In politically unstable contexts like Pakistan, the relationship between the researcher and the elite reveals shifting power dynamics of class, gender, and national background, which are further complicated by the prevalence of rumor and the exceptional ability of elite informants to obscure that which they would prefer remain hidden. Specifically, this article argues that the researcher’s positionality, and the inversion of traditional power dynamics between the researcher and the researched, can ameliorate, as well as exacerbate, the challenges of undertaking participant observation with society’s most powerful.

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Editorial

Why Methodology?

Soheila Shahshahani

What is the state of anthropology in and about the Middle East? How can we assess this situation? The necessity of beginning a new journal comes from the fact that there is a lacuna in the field and those engaged in it claim they can overcome this. With regard to anthropology, we are dedicating this second issue to methodology because we feel certain that some problems in the field come from its methodology. If we discuss it directly and allow readers to critically reflect upon it, then we can take the next step. Questions that come to mind would include: Is the state of anthropology in the Middle East the same as elsewhere in the world? How is this situation related to its methodology? How is it related to the definition of the field in the area, and to its place among other social and human sciences within the state apparatus? Or could it also be comprehended as a function of the state of colonialism at large in the region?

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Introduction

Indigenous Methodology

Uliana Vinokurova

In this issue of Sibirica scholars from Sakha (Yakutia), Buryatia, Tuva, and Khakassiia present their research with a new paradigm in mind: an indigenous methodology facilitated and represented by indigenous peoples in Siberia. This methodology is aimed at bringing together the thinking, experiences, interpretations and interests of the indigenous peoples in cultural anthropology. The indigenous scholars whose work is published in this issue understand their own rich cultural, historical, and intellectual legacy, as well as its contemporary potential. These scholars do not only study their own cultures but also live within the communities, sharing the interests and anxieties of their people. This is why indigenous scholars often are political and social activists who speak on behalf of their own people. Many urgent issues present concerns for the indigenous peoples of Siberia, including industrial development and sustainability, modern challenges that affect cultures in the context of globalization, education and schooling, language development and preservation, and, perhaps most important, ecological transformations that affect the sensitive environments of Siberia. Tackling such significant issues requires partnership and cooperation between scholars from the West and indigenous scholars in their home countries.

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New Trends in History Textbook Research

Issues and Methodologies toward a School Historiography

Maria Repoussi and Nicole Tutiaux-Guillon

This article traces the developments within history textbook research as presented at the 2009 conference of the International Society for History Didactics (ISHD), held in cooperation with the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Braunschweig, Germany. The article claims that significant developments reveal school historiography to be a challenged area for history didactics. Key concepts and theoretical frames require further discussion in order to develop history didactics not only as an area for social and political responsibilities but also as a theoretical discipline.

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Understanding Urban Social Movements in Cognitive Capitalism

Methodological Reflections on Participatory and Ethnographic Research

Marion Hamm

The concept of participation is currently evoked by constituencies as varied as urban planners, local governments, universities and social movements. This coincides with a revival of participatory research methods in the social and cultural sciences. This article argues that the critical potential of participatory research methods should not be taken for granted in cognitive capitalism, where participation is as much an instrument for governmental regulation from above as it is a practice for democratic self-determination from below. First, the politics of participation from the emancipatory departures of the 1970s to today's revival are being discussed. Second, based on a long-term ethnographic study on the transnational Euromayday movement of the precarious, it is demonstrated how positioning the researcher using reflexive ethnography can support a critical research attitude through a process of reflexive hybridisation. In concluding, reflexive activist scholarship is outlined as a critical research attitude which encourages participatory knowledge production in a way that responds both to the field of activism and the field of academia.

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Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic

Drawing on my experience of a Muslim version of exorcism in urban Macedonia, this article continues a methodological discussion of the implications of being an atheist anthropologist when researching religion, a situation known as 'methodological atheism'. Methodological atheism is often linked to the problem of suspending one's intellectual disregard of people's religions as delusions. This article will argue instead that there are barriers to participation in religious rituals that are not covered by questions of disbelief. The notion of 'dispositional atheism' is discussed against the backdrop of the anxieties, uncertainties, and inhibitions experienced by an atheist anthropologist caught up in a moment of religious intensity.

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Soheila Shahshahani

This article refers to the methodology of this eld as a viable way of being in a very complex (personal, institutional, research) situation of existence at different levels over a long period of time. The author uses ‘distancing’, putting in abeyance her personal reactions in order to comprehend and make evident what would otherwise have been difficult to go through. So participant observation not only deeply familiarises the researcher with a situation and culture, it also provides a standpoint of not personally getting involved in order to continue research.