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On the Border of Being an Insider and Outsider: Doing Ethnography Back Home

By: Negin Sattari Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Sociology
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In July 2015, I traveled from the United States, where I had been living as an international student for 6 years, to the Islamic Republic of Iran, my home country, to conduct ethnographic research on Iranian women’s work in traditionally masculine professions. In this case, I discuss my positionality in relation to my participants as someone who was situated on the borders between being an insider and outsider. I will discuss how the years I had lived outside Iran and my positionality as a middle class, educated women in the United States made me an outsider to the lives of my participants in ways I did not expect. Through this, I hope to provide an example of the complexities of researcher’s positionality when doing ethnographic fieldwork and its major impacts on the substance and quality of ethnographic data.

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