Sociology Gold: The sociology research of Goldsmiths, University of London

Researching 'Race' and Ethnicity Methods, Knowledge and Power (2003)

Yasmin Gunaratnam

Researching ‘race’ and Ethnicity provides an innovative discussion of the methodological, epistemological and ethical challenges of doing qualitative research that is informed by questions of ‘race’, ethnicity and social difference. By identifying and challenging ‘categorical thinking' and many longstanding assumptions about the meanings of ‘race’ and ethnicity, the author gets to the heart of many of the everyday dilemmas and difficulties that researchers confront in the field, but are rarely theorised or openly discussed.

Yasmin Gunaratnam’s insistence that ‘race’ and ethnicity are a significant part of all qualitative research, and are not the ‘specialist' concerns of those whose work is explicitly focussed upon ‘race’, provokes a radical rethinking of current methodological debates. How do racial and ethnic categories inform our approaches to research? How does the racialised identity of the researcher and the research participants affect the research interaction and the knowledge that we produce? What are the assumptions that are made about racialised subjectivity and inter-subjectivity? How can we make sense of accounts in which ‘race’ and ethnicity are silent or are non-manifest? How can we work ethically across difference?

In examining these and other questions, the wide-ranging discussions in the book are animated by examples drawn from the author's ethnographic research with white and minoritized research participants. Through these examples readers will be able to engage with some of the complexities of research relationships, power relations and ethical concerns about engagement, disconnection and complicity in research. The attention that the book gives to the excluded experiences of minoritized researchers will be of particular value to many readers.

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