Reflecting on Race, Gender and Age in Humanitarian-Led Research: Going Beyond Institutional to Individual Positionality
Feminist research involves critical analysis of power, including positionality—the multiple identities and power hierarchies surrounding researchers. While analysis of positionalities (referred to as "reflexivity") is relatively common in certain sectors, in the humanitarian sector, it is almost non-existent. Humanitarian-led research is often assumed to be objective. Despite momentum around decolonising and localising humanitarian aid, which has brought analysis of power sharply into focus, analysis done by humanitarian organisations has largely focused on power hierarchies at the institutional level, rather than how the individual positionalities of researchers might affect research led by humanitarian actors. In this article, I reflect on experiences as a minority-ethnicity researcher conducting anthropological fieldwork among Syrian refugees in Jordan. My experiences highlight how the intersections between race, gender and age profoundly shape research, challenging assumptions of "objective" humanitarian research. I echo calls for intentionally engaging with power hierarchies underlying humanitarian aid, urging humanitarian actors to analyse individual researcher positionalities.
Copyright (c) 2022 Michelle Lokot
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