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Reflexivity in Practice: Power and Ethics in Feminist Research on International Relations

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Abstract

How can we study power and identify ways to mitigate its abuse in the real world when we, as researchers, also participate in the projection of power through knowledge claims? Informing epistemological perspective, theoretical choices, research design, data collection, data analysis, exposition of findings, and venues for sharing findings, feminism offers many answers. We argue that the most important feminist tool for guiding international relations scholarship is the research ethic. This research ethic is the research practice associated with a critical feminist theory that is reflective of the normative concerns of constructivist, critical, post-modern, and post-colonial theories. It offers International Relations researchers feminist standards for assessing research despite feminism’s multiplicity and its defiance of attempts to delimit its practice. This article sets out a feminist research ethic for improving international relations (IR) scholarship, regardless of whether it is feminist or not. We then show that this research practice can also help the researcher resolve ethical dilemmas in research in ethical ways that enhance the quality of the research.

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