Researcher Positionality

Researcher Positionality

  • Yolande Bouka, 2015, Researching Violence in Africa as a Black Woman: Notes from Rwanda, American University/Institute for Security Studies. This working paper addresses some of the ethical and methodological concerns I confronted as a non-white woman conducting research in post-conflict Rwanda. In this paper, I address the wanting diversity of perspectives with regards to reflexivity, positionality, and risk in the field and expose some implications of conducting research in politically charged environments for non-white, “brown,” and/or non-western researchers. I also introduce perspectives that may influence the ways in which they gather and analyze their data when researching political violence. The paper looks at how I navigated my field experience as a Western female researcher of the African diaspora. I argue that underrepresented researchers and the study of violence can benefit from broadening the conversation about researchers’ identities and how they relate to the field, their research subjects, and their data.