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

Christine Schmalenbach, Mechthild Kiegelmann


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.


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

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-19.2.2893

Copyright (c) 2018 Christine Schmalenbach, Mechthild Kiegelmann

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