The Impact of Race, Gender, and Class in Postcolonial Feminist Fieldwork: A Retrospective Critique of Methodological Dilemmas

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Drawing on participant observation and interview excerpts collected during a critical ethnography, this article discusses the dilemmas of applying postcolonial feminist assumptions in fieldwork. Applying postcolonial feminist methodological assumptions from a location of racial privilege is not without its problems. Data illustrate the researcher's (un)easiness in facing evidence of personal adherence to Eurocentric power and privilege despite having a desire to be an instrument of social change. This retrospective critical reflection of fieldwork indicates that novice postcolonial feminist researchers need to embrace the destabilizing but inescapable journey of cultural alterity to avoid 'finalizing,' as Arthur Frank puts it, marginalized identities into new forms of colonialist representations. This article reminds qualitative health and nursing researchers that race, gender, and class create multiple tensions and contradictions making the field inherently gendered, political, personal, and public.

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