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Challenges of Ethnographic Fieldwork Within Migrant Communities

Oct 14 2021

Challenges of Ethnographic Fieldwork Within Migrant Communities

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Ethnographic research within migrant communities living in precarious conditions is mainly conducted by researchers from the Global North, or affiliated to research institutions located in the Global North. This raises additional and specific methodological challenges in terms of positionality and research ethics. These challenges manifest themselves in intertwined ways at various research stages, from the data collection to the data analysis and the communication of the research findings, and at varying degrees depending on the vulnerabilities of the research participants. They include: how to avoid and/or deal with the (often implicit) expectations the research participants may have towards the researchers as a result of their privileged position? How to analyse the data without falling into the trap of a Western centric approach that does not sufficiently account for migrants’ realities, experiences and perspectives? How to present the research findings in accurate ways, without feeding prejudices against migrant communities?

To address these questions, three anthropologists will share their methodological insights based on their past research experiences. Martin Zillinger will share his tips and thoughts on how to cooperate with migrant communities in ways that account for the specific positionality of researchers from the Global North. Sophie Nakueira will bring in the perspective of a researcher from the Global South, but affiliated to an institution located in the Global North. Nina Grønlykke Mollerup will discuss modes of data analysis that attempts to move beyond Western centric approaches. The presentations will be followed by a Q&A session where participants will be able to ask questions.



Introduction: Marie-Claire Foblets | Director, Department of Law & Anthropology, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

Speaker: Martin Zillinger | Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Cologne

Speaker: Sophie Nakueira | Senior Research Fellow, Department of Law & Anthropology, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

Speaker: Nina Grønlykke Mollerup | Associate Professor, Saxo Institute, Ethnology and Centre for Advanced Migration Studies, University of Copenhagen

Moderator: Maha Shuayb | Director, Centre for Lebanese Studies


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Online, Zoom, 3-4 pm CET