Three participatory geographers: reflections on positionality and working with participants in researching religions, spiritualities, and faith

Stephanie Denning, Richard Scriven, Ruth Slatter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper advances the geographies of religion, spirituality and faith’s limited attention to positionality by discussing the critical issues raised when using participatory approaches. Reflecting on three cases of participatory research, we foreground the dynamics of being a researcher with faith when working with participants from faith communities. Advocating participatory approaches as valuable methodologies that should be used more extensively to explore beliefs, faith practices, and social justice, we argue that greater attention needs to be given to the positionality of researchers undertaking this sort of research. Our cases raise three themes for discussion. First, the variety of ways in which faith positionalities influence how research is developed, conducted and concluded. Second, the intersections between our faith and other positionalities and how they shape our roles and relationships with research participants. Third, the fluid and multifaceted nature of faith positionalities and how they are changed, emphasized, and softened through the dynamics and entanglements of fieldwork. In doing so, we reflect on the complexities of being a researcher with faith, argue that faith positionality is a helpful dimension of their research rather than a limitation, and that all cultural, social and historical geographical researchers should reflect on their faith positionality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
Number of pages34
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Volume(In-press)
Early online date3 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Sep 2020

Funder

Economic and Social Research Council

Keywords

  • Geographies of religion
  • faith
  • participatory geographies
  • positionality
  • researchers with faith
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies

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