Using "Positioning" Theory to analyze a female school teacher’s experiences with care-work during COVID-19 in India


Decolonizing feminist research
Positioning theory


The past few decades have been marked by growing awareness about the need to move beyond Anglocentric/Eurocentric epistemes, to instead engage in intellectual projects that effectively (re)present the voices and consciousness of marginalized populations (Manion & Shah, 2019). The term decolonizing research methodologies has thus come to acquire a central place within feminist research in the field of Comparative and International Education (CIE), with rallying calls to foreground the complexities and uniqueness of female participants lived realities through non-hierarchical, non-categorical, and non-dichotomous modes of meaning-making (Lugones, 2010). However, methodological literature on decolonizing feminist research is largely linked to the data collection phase, with limited engagement with how to effectively analyze data once it is collected. This study demonstrates the potential use of “positioning theory”, a form of discourse analysis, as a decolonial analytical framework to investigate the micro details of a female school teachers’ experiences with caregiving during COVID-19 in India. The analysis revealed the shifting, often contextual nature of the identities that the participant claimed for herself throughout the narrative, such as a pampered daughter, critical observer, adjusting daughter-in-law, guilty mother, strategic choice maker, and so on.  Positioning theory thus helped problematize the tendency to essentialize women’s experiences and identities by drawing attention to the multiple, sometimes contradictory identities that they claim for themselves, a complexity that is often neglected within feminist research because of its messiness and lack of amenability to generalization.
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