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Using autoethnography, creative writing and participatory approaches as research methods in migration studies

March 15, 2024
9:30 AM EDT - 2:00 PM EDT
Hybrid (facilitators in person, 15 in person, 10-15 online) (max. 30 students)
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About the workshop:

This Research Gym will focus on qualitative research methodologies in migration that are experimental, creative and interdisciplinary – for instance, methods like autoethnography, participatory action research (including Photovoice), creative writing and others that are arts-based. The objective is to consider the potential of these unconventional approaches for studying complex trajectories and issues in migration in today’s digitally connected world. Together we will explore, for instance, opportunities to employ these innovative approaches and how we can anticipate and navigate the challenges they present, including ethical considerations.  

Even though the personal experiences of the migration researcher and their situatedness within the research field are often key drivers of their work, the perspectives stemming from their lived experience are little used as critical tools in migration studies. This Research Gym will examine researcher positionality and self-reflexivity as key theoretical and methodological strategies within autoethnographic and participatory approaches. Further, it will be an opportunity for early career migration researchers to explore how they might centre co-creation and collaboration in their research and practice, not only as a way to disrupt the power dynamics in traditional research settings, but also to help strengthen voice and agency in their participants, thereby contributing to decentring and decolonizing migration discourses.

This workshop will focus on the following questions:

  • How does the researcher’s positionality and the migrants’ lived experience shape research design and methods in migration studies?
  • How can autoethnography and creative writing add depth to qualitative research in migration?  
  • Why are storytelling and participatory approaches, like participatory action research, Photovoice, and arts-based methods important research tools for understanding the migrant experience? 
  • How can alternative research approaches provide opportunities to disrupt or reset the power dynamics in research relationships?

How this workshop will be delivered:

This workshop will use an interactive format for presenting information and for promoting discussion. Case studies and readings using research methods highlighted above will be shared in advance. The session will rely on role-playing participatory tools and narrative activities in a small-group setting to facilitate co-creation, reflective practice and experiential learning.

9:30–10 AM: Welcome reception

10–10:45 AM: Interactive presentation and discussion

Exploring storytelling, narrative inquiry and creative writing as research methods in migration studies, discussing ethical considerations

10:45–11:10 AM: Group activity and debrief

11:10–11:20 AM: Break

11:20 AM–12:15 PM: Interactive presentation and discussion

Centering “lived experience”, considering autoethnography as research method

12:15–1 PM: Lunch (provided)

1:00–1:45 PM: Discussion on participatory research methods as alternative ways of knowledge production in mMigration: Implications for migration research and practice

1:45–2 PM: Q&A and wrap-up

About the workshop leader:

Alka Kumar is a Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CERC Migration. She completed doctoral work on labour market integration for racialized skilled immigrants within the interdisciplinary Peace and Conflict Studies program, University of Manitoba. At CERC Migration, she recently led the StOries Project: Strangers to Ourselves, a teaching and training project, with a cohort of graduate students. The project explored the potential of storytelling and creative writing to generate new insights into multigenerational migration histories and contested notions of identity, race and multiculturalism in Canada. Based on this project, a hybrid collection of academic essays and story-chapters, Migration and Identity through Creative Writing (external link)  (open access), was recently published. Her current project at CERC uses participatory research methods to explore the migration and resettlement experience of refugee women and is implemented in partnership with the Catholic Crosscultural Services (external link)  and Mitacs (external link) .

Our workshops are often oversubscribed, and we maintain a waiting list. We ask that you please cancel your registration if you are no longer able to attend. We appreciate your understanding.