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Abstract

While what comprises “feminist research methods” is subject to debate, research with a feminist orientation is often characterised by heightened reflexivity and a recognition of the subjective nature of knowledge claims (Ryan-Flood and Gill, 2010). By drawing upon ethnographic research conducted among young people in post-apartheid South Africa, this paper interrogates the potential value of audio recordings or “voice notes” during fieldwork, in conjunction with the more traditional form of the fieldwork diary. I argue that, by providing an additional means through which to articulate the inevitable messiness of fieldwork, the recording of “voice notes” enables the researcher to “speak back” to themselves, generating valuable material to reflect upon when analysing and writing up one’s data. By privileging voice, this companion method potentially elucidates the conscious, and unconscious, self-censorship we impose when relying solely upon a textual rendering of experience. As such, it helps to lessen the uncomfortable distance between what researchers feel in the “field” and what they express at the “desk.” Mobilizing the insights of post-structural feminist scholars, I consider the importance of acknowledging ethnographic “processes” as well as “products,” in order to develop more reflexive research practice and a feminist sensibility, which interrogates the representations that it makes.

Note on the Author

Fawzia Haeri Mazanderani is in the third year of her PhD in Education at the University of Sussex. Her dissertation focuses on the development of aspirations of young people living in post-apartheid South Africa. She has a background in Social Anthropology from UCT (South Africa) and SOAS (London). Her research interests include ethnography, feminist and post-structural theory, ethics, youth transitions and aspirations. A large part of her journey as a researcher has involved exploring how to cultivate reflexivity without settling for solipsism.

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