Juggling and Joining Perspectives and Relationships—Multicultural Researchers in Multilocal Frames of Reference


  • Christine Schmalenbach TU Dortmund University
  • Mechthild Kiegelmann Karlsruhe University of Education




ethnography, El Salvador, marginalization, transformative paradigm, socio-economic context, research relationships, multilocality, multilingual research, reflexivity, positionality


In the face of globalization, more and more researchers have multicultural and multilocal backgrounds. This creates both challenges and possibilities. When combined with conducting research in a context in which people have experienced high levels of social marginalization, the intricacy of the research process increases. Much time, care, and reflection are required to secure ethical conduct and the validity of the research, and to facilitate results that are relevant for all those involved. The transformative paradigm and postcolonial indigenous research methodologies are theoretical frameworks that can guide this process.

In this article, we describe some of our experiences while developing an ethnographic dissertation project in a marginalized urban school and its direct surroundings in El Salvador. It is written from two perspectives: Christine SCHMALENBACH writes from her perspective as a German researcher who grew up in Mexico and did research in El Salvador. Mechthild KIEGELMANN writes from the perspective of a mentor who oversaw the project from Germany and was pivotal in spurring and enriching processes of reflection. We share our experiences form the research process hoping that they will be helpful for researchers and advisors in similarly complex situations.


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Author Biographies

Christine Schmalenbach, TU Dortmund University

Christine SCHMALENBACH is a lecturer and former doctorate student in the department of Social and Emotional Development in Rehabilitation and Education in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences at the TU Dortmund University in Germany. Her research interests include cooperative learning, education in Latin America, education and social inequity, pedagogic and didactic strategies to support the social and emotional development of children and youth, student participation, teacher training, and inclusive education.

Mechthild Kiegelmann, Karlsruhe University of Education

Mechthild KIEGELMANN is a professor of social psychology and social pedagogy at the Karlsruhe University of Education. She earned her doctorate in developmental psychology at Harvard University, USA and her post doc degree (Habilitation) in educational psychology at the University of Tübingen, Germany. She has worked as a clinical psychologist and conducted research in the area of child abuse. Her research interests include research ethics and emancipatory approaches to psychology and qualitative research methods in psychology. Currently she is conducting studies on hearing parents' motivations for teaching signs of a sign language to their hearing babies. She also investigates processes of multi-professional cooperation.




How to Cite

Schmalenbach, C., & Kiegelmann, M. (2018). Juggling and Joining Perspectives and Relationships—Multicultural Researchers in Multilocal Frames of Reference. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-19.2.2893



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