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Negotiating otherness: dilemmas of a non-Western researcher in the Indian sub-continent

Thapar-Bjorkert, Suruchi (1999) Negotiating otherness: dilemmas of a non-Western researcher in the Indian sub-continent. Journal of Gender Studies, 8 (1). pp. 57-69. ISSN 0958-9236

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Identification Number: 10.1080/095892399102823


This paper focuses on certain methodological issues that arose while interviewing Indian women activists in Uttar Pradesh, a state of North India. These activists had actively contributed to the anti-colonial struggle from 1920 till India's independence in 1947. This paper addresses two key issues. Firstly, the category 'Other' was not a fixed category. Its meaning was continuously negotiable, both, in my relationship with respondents and in terms of what I understood to be feminist methodology. Moreover, in the Indian context it was difficult to follow the precepts of what I understood to be feminist methodology because I could not write about the respondent's experiences by using their own language. At the same time, present feminist concepts such as gender-equality, oppression and consciousness had little meaning for women born at the turn of the century. Secondly, there were dilemmas around interviewing Indian women which made me aware of issues of class, religion, gender and generation. This paper is divided in three main sections. The first section focuses on other sources of evidence such as official and unofficial records, newspapers and magazines which provide the initial framework as well as help to locate the historical context of any research. However, they have to be studied in conjunction with oral narratives, which provide the crucial link between all the other sources of evidence. The second section deals with the dilemmas of 'Otherness' and the third section focuses on the dilemmas that arose while conducting interviews.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1999 Carfax Publishing Ltd
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2010 17:22
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 23:45

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