9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS09 Research Methods in Ethnic and Migration Studies

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Transnationalism and History Building I, 2E5

Conducting migration research in transnational social fields

The proposed paper will draw on my experience within an international research project on migration (female migrants) in 2006-2007 and on my ongoing research work that deals with the categorisation and classification of different migrant groups along gender, ethnic and class lines in migration policy at the EU level, using primarily biographic approaches understood as connecting migrant experience to the wider socio-political framework. By using mainly feminist epistemological and methodological insights that point to the importance of studying the social position of the researcher and its relevance for the social interaction with the research participants and the production of knowledge, the paper will focus on three main issues:
- The potential and difficulties of conducting migration research across and beyond ethnic lines (de-ethnicising migration research, e.g. units of analysis), the issue of comparability of such research results and the dangers of essentialising ethnic identities, i.e. migrants of specific ethnic groups by assuming the equivalence of culture, community, ethnic category and ethnic identity;
- The issue of the my own standpoint mainly across gender and ethnic (being a woman and having ethnic minority background) and also age and class lines; and the issue of 'juggling' between being constructed as both an insider and outsider by the collocutors and understanding how these diverse social positions construct and influence the research process;
- How the transnational activities, organising and civic participation of migrants are transforming our research fields beyond the 'traditional' nation-state paradigm, how the distinction between immigrants and nationals is increasingly blurred, denaturalised, no longer taken for granted, and what the possibilities and challenges of conducting more transnational research in migration studies are.
The paper will explore these issues through a detailed analysis of ethnographic material, collected with interviews and participant observation with female migrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former Soviet Union that live in Slovenia.