ERIC Number: ED373324
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
Writing In and Writing Out: Some Reflections on the Researcher's Dual Role in Ethnographic Research.
Novice researchers often face more peril than pleasures in the researching process, which can become even more perilous as bicultural backgrounds locate them in ambiguous and fluid positions in relation to the "native" and the research community. Such ambiguity problematizes the techniques of participant observation, revealing it as a Western ideal with the tacit assumption that a researcher is an individual who is able to study other cultures from a distance while actively participating in them. Few composition researchers have speculated on the idea that participant observation may oversimplify the diversity of those who do ethnography by decontextualizing it. For one novice researcher (brought up in China but a student in the United States) who observed an English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) class focused on autobiographical writing, her dual role as an observer and a participant left her uneasy. This ambivalence lasted throughout the whole research process. She realized much later that at root was the conflict between the required participant observation and her cultural sense of self. What researchers need is a more fluid, process-oriented definition of the ethnographer's role based on feminist standpoint theories to acknowledge the complexity of multicultural observers and observed. (Contains 16 references.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Researcher Role
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition (University Park, PA, July 13-16, 1994).