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Negotiating, Shifting, and Balancing: Research Identities in Transnational Research

Annual Review of Comparative and International Education 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78743-766-1, eISBN: 978-1-78743-765-4

ISSN: 1479-3679

Publication date: 5 February 2018


Ethnographers and other qualitative social scientists have long reflected on the ways researcher identity – who we are – shapes how we see and understand what and whom we encounter in our research, and how research participants see and understand us. In “Insider–outsider–inbetweener? Researcher positioning, participative methods, and cross-cultural educational research,” Milligan (2016) takes up questions regarding researcher positionality in qualitative research in the field of comparative and international education. In particular, Milligan argues for the use of participative techniques to gain insider perspectives and to lessen unequal power relations between researcher and the researched in cross-cultural research. In this chapter, we will engage Milligan’s discussion of participative research by analyzing the similarities and differences in studying participants with relative social privilege versus studying those from marginalized communities. Specifically, we will reflect on two ethnographic studies that explored the global educational aspirations of middle and upper middle-class Asian students. Furthermore, we attempt to complicate the discussion of “cross-cultural” research by arguing that in the neoliberal global context, researchers and the researched may move back and forth across national and cultural boundaries. The chapter concludes by raising questions regarding the unique challenges of conducting cross-cultural studies that flow across national boundaries.



Lee, S.J., Liu, S. and Ham, S. (2018), "Negotiating, Shifting, and Balancing: Research Identities in Transnational Research", Wiseman, A.W. (Ed.) Annual Review of Comparative and International Education 2017 (International Perspectives on Education and Society, Vol. 34), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 119-138.



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