"Talk to Her, She is also Chinese": A Reflection on the Spatial-Temporal Reach of Co-Ethnicity in Migration Research


  • Maggi Leung Utrecht University




migration research, migrant researcher, intersecting positionalities, space, time, Chinese migration, ethnography, longitudinal study


This article rejects the insider/outsider dichotomy as a framework for understanding researcher-researched relationship. It complicates the over-simplified, bounded and binary construct by underlining how insiderness-outsiderness is dynamic and multiple, highly contextualised in the specific space-time of interactions between the researcher and her "research subject". In particular, the article underlines the power of space, place and time in researchers' attempt to establish and manage relationship with the people they study. It puts forth the notion of "spatial-temporal reach" to make sense of the complex, dynamic, deeply situated and often unplannable relationalities between researchers and their research participants. Episodes from the author's journey as a "migrant researcher" illustrate how sensitivity to (socio)spatialities (as in insiderness-outsiderness) and temporalities (such as age, generation, life cycle, time and frequency of research contact) help us, as researchers, reflect on our positionalities, experiences and emotions in knowledge co-production with the people whom we study, that in turn, shape our understanding of our own identities and heritage.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1502130


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Author Biography

Maggi Leung, Utrecht University

Maggi LEUNG, Dr.Phil., is associate professor in the Department of Human Geography and Planning at Utrecht University. She has worked at various universities in Hong Kong, Germany and the Netherlands since she completed her PhD in 2002. She has been engaged in research covering diverse themes in social, cultural and development geography, including mobilities, diaspora and transnationalism, identities and belonging, concepts of development, cultural heritage, tourism and migrant entrepreneurship. LEUNG's current research centres on the nature and impact of knowledge-related human mobilities such as student and academic mobility, as well as other forms of skilling and skilled mobilities. She has published on the above topics in a range of geography and social sciences journals. Her recent publications have appeared in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Geoforum, Population, Space and Place, Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie and Asian Pacific Migration Journal.




How to Cite

Leung, M. (2015). "Talk to Her, She is also Chinese": A Reflection on the Spatial-Temporal Reach of Co-Ethnicity in Migration Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 16(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-16.2.2332



Researcher, Migrant, Woman: Methodological Implications of Multiple Positionalities in Migration Studies