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Exploring the Impact of Physical Activity and Motherhood on Activity Levels in Later Life for a Specific Group of Older Somali Women

By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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My research explored Somali women's experiences of motherhood and physical activity in Somalia and Australia. The resulting thesis presented the results and described the methodological challenges faced by a White researcher conducting cross-cultural research. I had volunteered for a Care Connection programme run by Doutta Galla Community Health Service in North Melbourne, Australia, and was assigned to help a young Somali woman, Fadumo, who was having difficulty ‘writing up’ the programme for evaluation. Fadumo and I became friends and she was subsequently employed by Doutta Galla Community Health Service to run weekly Somali women's mental health groups. My project began through this friendship, which afforded me access to the older Somali women's community. This case study focuses on the challenges I faced as a researcher in cross-cultural research. The chosen methodology – conversations, observations, journaling, photography and art – reflects the challenges the participants and I faced as we negotiated different worlds: the Somali world and the Australian world. This case study reveals my emotions as I was challenged by the dominant culture's judgement of where a White woman should be positioned in relation to the ‘Other’, and as I experienced a lack of trust in my capabilities and an unsettling of my own identity.

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Participant observation

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