The Methodological Imperatives of Feminist Ethnography
Journal of Feminist Scholarship
Feminist ethnography does not have a single, coherent definition and is caught between struggles over the definition and goals of feminism and the multiple practices known collectively as ethnography. Towards the end of the 1980s, debates emerged that problematized feminist ethnography as a productive methodology and these debates still haunt feminist ethnographers today. In this article, I provide a concise historiography of feminist ethnography that summarizes both its promises and its vulnerabilities. I address the three major challenges I argue feminist ethnographers currently face, which include responding productively to feminist critiques of representing “others,” accounting for feminisms’ commitment to social change while grappling with poststructuralist critiques of knowledge production, and confronting the historical and ongoing lack of recognition for significant contributions by feminist ethnographers. Despite these challenges, I argue that feminist ethnography is a productive methodology and I conclude by delineating its methodological imperatives. These imperatives include producing knowledge about women’s lives in specific cultural contexts, recognizing the potential detriments and benefits of representation, exploring women’s experiences of oppression along with the agency they exercise in their own lives, and feeling an ethical responsibility towards the communities in which the researchers work. I argue that this set of imperatives enables feminist ethnographers to successfully navigate the challenges they face.
Schrock, Richelle D., "The Methodological Imperatives of Feminist Ethnography" (2013). Women & Gender Studies Faculty Work. 2.
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