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“Does This Mean You’re Not Going to Come Visit Me Anymore?”: An Inquiry into an Ethics of Reciprocity and Positionality in Feminist Ethnographic Research



In 1988, Judith Stacey posed the provocative question: “Can there be a feminist ethnography?” In doing so, she challenged widely held assumptions about feminist ethnography by pointing out that qualitative research methods do not necessarily mitigate the dangers of exploitation in research. Almost two decades later, the issues Stacey raised continue to receive considerable attention from feminist scholars. This article adds to this body of literature by examining the dynamics of reciprocity and positionality in research. Drawing from research conducted with Bosnian Muslim refugees, the author outlines three tensions she experienced and addresses how these tensions were related to her shifting and sometimes contradictory positionalities as a woman, a researcher, a friend, a graduate student, and as a person who was straddled between two classes. This is followed by a discussion about the lessons learned and the way the experiences shaped her current collaborative, community-based research project with Somali refugees.