Session 2

Positionality in the Field: Finding yourself in your Field


The discussions and personal reflections in the first session raise questions about the complexities of gender, nationality, race and sexuality that a researcher may encounter in the field. Such critical reflections help the students to engage with a set of readings in this session. The students are divided into small groups and are urged to discuss the key insights of the readings.

The course readings and materials will enable participants to carefully step through some of the issues associated with the embodied experience of undertaking fieldwork at the intersections of: gender, sexuality, class, race, etc and in the context of embedded power dynamics.

Different ‘steams’ of readings are included within the course to address the different issues that may be raised by students, in their approach to fieldwork. For example, conducting fieldwork in a known and familiar location is likely to raise a different set of issues than undertaking fieldwork in a new location. Similarly, conducting fieldwork as an Indigenous student in an Indigenous community is likely to raise different issues from that of a non-Indigenous scholar conducting research in an Indigenous community.

Readings are categorized under the following headings of Indigenous, Queer, Gender and students are asked to select two of the readings from a particular ‘stream’ to discuss in small groups. This session concludes with students being given time to prepare and then share their own brief positionality statements. In preparing their positionality statements, students are asked to reflect on both what issues might influence their own positionality in the field, and what areas of their identity they might like not to share.




Helliwell, Christine. 2000. ” It’s Only a Penis”: Rape, Feminism, and Difference.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 25:3, 789-816.

Robert M. Vanderbeck. 2005. Masculinities and Fieldwork: Widening the discussion. Gender, Place & Culture 12:4, 387-402.


Bakalaki, Alexandra. 1997. “Students, natives, colleagues: Encounters in academia and in the field.” Cultural Anthropology 12:4,502-526.

Aluli-Meyer, Manulani. 2013. “Indigenous and authentic: Hawaiian epistemology and the triangulation of meaning.” The Global Intercultural Communication Reader, 148-164. Routledge, New York.

Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. 2013. “Towards an Australian Indigenous women’s standpoint theory: A methodological tool.” Australian Feminist Studies 28,:78, 331-347.

Narayan, Kirin. 1993. “How native is a “native” anthropologist?.” American Anthropologist 95:3, 671-686.

Teaiwa, Teresia K. 2001.”L (o) osing the Edge.” The Contemporary Pacific: 343-357.

Tengan, Ty P. Kāwika, O. Tēvita, and Rochelle Tuitagava’A. Fonoti. 2010. “Genealogies: Articulating indigenous anthropology in/of Oceania.” Pacific Studies 33:2,139-167.


Bolton, Ralph. 2003. “Tricks, friends, and lovers: Erotic encounters in the field.” In Taboo, 118-138. Routledge, New York.

McCarthy, Annie. 2016. “I Spent a Year in India and I Looked Ridiculous!” In Plainspeak (blog) August 2, 2016.

Noriega, Guillermo Nu–ez. 2014. Just between us: An ethnography of male identity and intimacy in rural communities of Northern Mexico. University of Arizona Press.

Seizer, Susan. 1995. “Paradoxes of visibility in the field: rites of queer passage in anthropology.” Public Culture 8, 1: 73-100.