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Situated knowledge in cross-cultural, cross-language research: a collaborative reflexive analysis of researcher, assistant and participant subjectivities
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6811-304X
2014 (English)In: Qualitative Research, ISSN 1468-7941, E-ISSN 1741-3109, Vol. 15, no 4, 489-505 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyzes situated knowledge through the lens of the author and her three field assistants. This work is written self-reflexively and is based on geographical fieldwork in Eastern Africa. It seeks to capitalize on the personal and professional relationships of the researcher and her field assistants to improve both research outcomes and working arrangements. Reflecting on episodes of failure, anxiety and misunderstanding, it disentangles the power geometry of situated knowledge and sheds light on the vital role played by the assistant/interpreter and by his/her positionality ‘in the making’ of cross-cultural, cross-language research. Grounded in a feminist epistemological perspective, this article shows that methodological reflexivity should engage not only the researcher or the participants but also the field assistants. This praxis is crucial to enhancing the validity of studies conducted in a cross-cultural, cross-language environment across social science.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 15, no 4, 489-505 p.
Keyword [en]
cross-cultural cross-language research, feminist epistemology, field assistant, positionality, power, reflexivity, situated knowledge
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-106014DOI: 10.1177/1468794114543404ISI: 000357790700005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-106014DiVA: diva2:734525
Projects
Current expansion and past dynamics of small-holder irrigation farming in African dry-lands, measuring landscape, labor and climate interactions
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE2009-210
Available from: 2014-07-18 Created: 2014-07-18 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. East African Hydropatriarchies: An analysis of changing waterscapes in smallholder irrigation farming
Open this publication in new window or tab >>East African Hydropatriarchies: An analysis of changing waterscapes in smallholder irrigation farming
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the local waterscapes of two smallholder irrigation farming systems in the dry lands of East African in a context of socio-ecological changes. It focuses on three aspects: institutional arrangements, gender relations and landscape investments. 

This thesis is based on a reflexive analysis of cross-cultural, cross-language research, particularly focusing on the role of field assistants and interpreters, and on member checking as a method to ensure validity.

Flexible irrigation infrastructure in Sibou, Kenya, and Engaruka, Tanzania, allow farmers to shift the course of water and to extend or reduce the area cultivated depending on seasonal rainfall patterns. Water conflicts are avoided through a decentralized common property management system. Water rights are continuously renegotiated depending on water supply. Water is seen as a common good the management of which is guided by mutual understanding to prevent conflicts through participation and shared information about water rights.

However, participation in water management is a privilege that is endowed mostly to men. Strict patriarchal norms regulate control over water and practically exclude women from irrigation management. The control over water usage for productive means is a manifestation of masculinity. The same gender bias has emerged in recent decades as men have increased their engagement in agriculture by cultivating crops for sale. Women, because of their subordinated position, cannot take advantage of the recent livelihood diversification. Rather, the cultivation of horticultural products for sale has increased the workload for women who already farm most food crops for family consumption. In addition, they now have to weed and harvest the commercial crops that their husbands sell for profit. This agricultural gender divide is mirrored in men´s and women´s response to increased climate variability. Women intercrop as a risk adverting strategy, while men sow more rounds of crops for sale when the rain allows for it. Additionally, while discursively underestimated by men, women´s assistance is materially fundamental to maintaining of the irrigation infrastructure and to ensuring the soil fertility that makes the cultivation of crops for sale possible.

In sum, this thesis highlights the adaptation potentials of contemporary smallholder irrigation systems through local common property regimes that, while not inclusive towards women, avoid conflicts generated by shifting water supply and increased climate variability.

To be able to assess the success and viability of irrigation systems, research must be carried out at a local level. By studying how local water management works, how conflicts are adverted through common property regimes and how these systems adapt to socio-ecological changes, this thesis provides insights that are important both for the planning of current irrigation schemes and the rehabilitation or the extension of older systems. By investigating the factors behind the consistent marginalization of women from water management and their subordinated role in agricultural production, this study also cautions against the reproduction of these discriminatory norms in the planning of irrigation projects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University, 2015. 81 p.
Series
Meddelanden från Kulturgeografiska institutionen vid Stockholms universitet, ISSN 0585-3508 ; 150
Keyword
smallholder irrigation farming, local gender contract, landesque capital, common property regimes, dry lands, feminist epistemology, member checking, Kenya, Tanzania
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120591 (URN)978-91-7649-206-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-11-06, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE2009-210
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2015-10-15 Created: 2015-09-14 Last updated: 2015-11-03Bibliographically approved

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