To whom does my voice belong? (Re)Negotiating multiple identities as a female ethnographer in two Hong Kong rural villages

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Abstract

This article examines the conflicting roles of ethnographers in the field, and the power relations between researchers and informants. The article posits the notion that the conflicting and multiple identities of an ethnographer could enrich and contribute immensely to ethnographic work in the field. The article explores how a researcher oscillates between multiple positions while conducting fieldwork, which is always contextual, relational, and politicized. Through an analysis of 20 months of fieldwork undertaken to study gender dynamics in two rural villages in Hong Kong, I illustrate how my experience as a native researcher depends on my multiple positions, and how the data collection experience is deeply enhanced by my identities. In this article, I argue that having multiple identities could work to a researcher’s advantage in understanding the dynamics of the people within the locale. Contrary to the belief of upholding a dichotomous relationship between researchers and informants to safeguard objectivity during the research process, navigating among multiple identities and negotiating the axis of differences and inequalities between the researcher and the informants, as I strongly argue, is a worthy endeavor in order to perform truly ethical and fruitful ethnographic research. Copyright © 2011 Asian Institute of Technology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-456
JournalGender, Technology and Development
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

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fieldwork
Hong Kong
village
power relations
gender
objectivity
research process
experience
analysis

Citation

Ng, I (2011). To whom does my voice belong? (Re)Negotiating multiple identities as a female ethnographer in two Hong Kong rural villages. Gender, Technology and Development, 15(3), 437-456. doi: 10.1177/097185241101500306

Keywords

  • Female ethnographer
  • Native researcher
  • Power relations
  • Positionality
  • Reflexivity
  • Hong Kong
  • Indigenous village