Considering positionality in social justice research and teaching in pursuit of more just outcomes

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Qualitative Research Specialty Group, Harassment-Free AAG Initiative, Harassment-Free AAG Initiative
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Organizers: Colleen Hammelman, Daniel Block
Chairs: Colleen Hammelman


Geographers engaged in applied research and teaching (in subfields of community geographies, scholar-activism, participatory action research, and others) frequently engage with traditionally marginalized communities in pursuit of research and practice for producing systems that are more just. In these pursuits, academics often represent social positions that differ from the communities in which they work. Feminist scholarship on qualitative research calls for reflecting on such differing positionalities to attend to power imbalances, and the ethical implications of our work (Dowling, 2010; Larkin et al, 2006). Such reflexivity can consider the merits of researchers being insiders or outsiders, impacts of the research on participants, and the driving motivations of the work in order to restructure research relationships and design to better promote shared goals. This includes research across scales, such as local efforts in which researchers occupy different social positions than their university serves, and international research that relies on engagement with communities at longer distances and responsibilities (Ybarra, 2014). Questions concerning positionality also arise in teaching within diverse classrooms, in community-based learning projects, and mentorship of student researchers. As such, this panel session seeks to bring together scholars engaged in social justice oriented teaching and research to discuss concerns related to positionality. In discussing the ways forward in such practice, we seek contributions to existing conversations by considering strategies for navigating the potential for power imbalances created by different positionalities so that such social justice oriented research and teaching can produce more just outcomes for researchers, collaborative partners, and students.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Daniel Block Chicago State University 20
Introduction Colleen Hammelman University of North Carolina - Charlotte 10
Panelist Jin-Kyu Jung University of Washington-Bothell 20
Panelist Amber Bosse University of Kentucky 20
Discussant Kristin Reynolds 20

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