Making allies or others?: Intersectional challenges during courtroom observations
2015 (English)In: Concurrences in Postcolonial Research : Perspectives, Methodologies, Engagements: Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden, August 20-23, 2015, 2015Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
This paper deals with methodological challenges presented while carrying out observations during an ethnographically inspired research project into notions and ideas about culture, ethnicity, gender and age within a Swedish courtroom context. Approximately 20 court cases on “street related crime” and “domestic violence” have been studied by means of observations in court, interviews with defendants and readings of court documents. Two analytical courses of action have emerged while applying postcolonial perspectives on preliminary findings; one being to address the court as an arena for multiple, concurring and conflicting voices and the other as a discursive arena for epistemological colonialism, or as contemporary, inherited expression of a Nordic (discursive) colonialism.
However, the intersectional approach of trying to account for several concurrent voices proposes some interesting methodological challenges, which is the focus of this paper. One such challenge is related to scope and range of social categories present in the court context, placing great demands on the researcher’s ability to “keep track” of multiple perspectives/voices simultaneously. The paper will address this issue by exploring questions concerned with the amount of time and material needed to reach empirical saturation, as well as potential methods facilitating the acknowledgement and observation of a multi-perspective presence. Another challenge when doing research in a setting characterized by diversity related to the (un)awareness of the researcher’s situated knowledge and position(s) within specific discursive homes. The paper will discuss methodological possibilities as well as difficulties when it comes to accounting for the agency of people found to be othered in courtroom discourse and interaction. The importance of interviews to verify or contest researcher findings will be addressed, in addition to the importance of empathy and dangers of “othering” when approaching a diverse setting.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject Social Sciences, Sociology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-60681OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-60681DiVA: diva2:1074196
International conference on Concurrences in Postcolonial Research – Perspectives, Methodologies, Engagements
ProjectsConcurrences: Intersectional challenges during courtroom observations; acknowledging concurrent and/or conflicting voices while conducting ethnographic researchRJ-projektet "Förhandlingar i rätten", RJP12-0405:1