Considering nationality and performativity: undertaking research across the geopolitical divide in the Falkland Islands and Argentina


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This paper explores the substantial challenges of doing research with citizens living in nation-states on different sides of a geopolitical dispute. It draws on an on-going research project being undertaken in Argentina, the Falkland Islands and the UK focusing on tensions in the South Atlantic over the status of the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. Geographical research that looks to examine the impacts of geopolitics on everyday lives is increasingly commonplace and some of this work is being undertaken in politically volatile and (post)conflict settings. Set in this context, the paper argues that more attention needs to be placed on the process of doing this kind of research in ways that take account of researcher–researched relations, performance and positionality. First, it argues that doing multi-sited geographical research of this nature can enable and disable relations with respondents in ways that require constant analysis during fieldwork. The prevailing historical, socio-cultural, (geo)political and temporal dynamics of research encounters must be sensitively considered. Second, national identity was consistently referenced in my field diary entries and the paper contends that this aspect of researcher identity has been neglected in discussions of positionality. Drawing on theoretical literatures that discuss the performance of national identity, the paper suggests how researchers might think more self-reflexively about nationality and its performativity through the doing of research.