(Be-)Deutungsansprüche in qualitativer Forschung

Tagungsprogramm: Session 2 B

“Decolonizing Methodologies”


Chairs: Darja Klingenberg, Vanessa Eileen Thompson & Harpreet Cholia

Participants: Joanna James, Nirmal Puwar, Maria Schwertl


Location: Jügelhaus / Alter Senatssaal


One of the central thoughts of decolonial, postcolonial, critical race and critical migration studies is the analysis and critique of hegemonic knowledge production and reflection of “regimes of truth” and “master-narratives”, scientific ideals and methods that maintain power relations.


Especially the social sciences that examine, research and theorise the “other” are deeply involved in the production, marginalisation and racialisation of certain (collective) subject positions as well as in the reproduction of hierarchies and power structures. In recent years a process of (self) reflection and critique has occured in those fields: in social/cultural anthropology the theoretical reflection, focused mainly on the questions of representation and ethnographic authority, started back in the 1980’s, in sociology it started developing by focusing on questions of agency and identity construction, a critique of methodological nationalism as well as writing critical migration histories. In both disciplines some work is done on the historical entanglements/complicity of social/cultural anthropology and sociology and their scientific concepts and methods in social, economic and epistemic power relations. There is an ongoing debate on victimisation, criminalisation and methodological othering as well as reflection on the privileges of scientific researchers.


This critique is mostly enrolled in theoretical spheres and furthermore concentrates on the decolonisation on a textual level of writing ethnographies or sociological studies. It still needs to be broaden to and installed in methodological debates. Textbooks and Literature on methodology lack a repertoire of critical strategies and approaches. This panel aims to further discuss the critical debate on the need for self-reflexive, dialogical and creative methodological approaches and strategies to decolonise nation centered, eurocentric, epistemic racist practices of knowledge production and objectivity. This includes questions such as:


How to conceptualise agency, subversion and resistance beyond the pitfalls of victimisation and heroisation? How to depict the particularity of participants perspectives, tactics and strategies, desires and tastes, biographical orientations without loosing perspective on the multiple, intersecting power structures, social fields (Bourdieu) and hierarchies they are operating in? How to translate and represent the complex and contradictory knowledge and perspective of marginalised communities, marginalised narratives that question conventional norms of narrations within a dominantly, white academic space? How to make marginalisation visible without speaking for the research subjects? How to challenge epistemic asymmetries within conventional sociological premises such as authority of interpretation and knowledge as well as scientific distance? How to elaborate further alternative, action orientated and involved research approaches? How to make/reflect on the researchers privileges, without re-centering them or fall into narcissistic traps? 




Harpreet Cholia & Vanessa Thompson: Revisiting the "Crisis of Representation". Decolonising Participant Observation


Joanna James: "It's a humanizing speech, one that resists domination". Oral Histories as a Source for Empirical Knowledge Production


Maria Schwertl: From Material Culture to Material-Semiotic Networks: Decentering the Migrant Subject



PowerPoint Presentation Cholia Thompson
Cholia Thompson.pps
Microsoft Power Point-Präsentation [6.9 MB]









We would like to thank all participants for their contributions to a inspiring conference and look forward to continuing the discussion that we have just begun!