An Ethnographic Exploration of Narrative Methodologies: Retrieving Marginalized Voices through Multilingual Stories of Arab Women’s Literacy Practices

By Khadeegha Alzouebi.

Published by The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 12, 2014 $US5.00

In this paper I explore the methodological issues associated with life history research. This paper is dedicated to describing, justifying and explaining the use of life history methods in a study of the literacy practices of multilingual Arab women. I write from the perspective of a multilingual researcher studying Arab women. I illustrate and comment on my experiences of anxiety and uncertainty at various times during the study. I focus on my struggles over self-disclosure, concern over the limitations of my attempt to re-present elements of the informants’ lives and the importance of striving for accuracy in that representation, and how the research experience influenced my thinking, actions, and professional practice in the time beyond the completion of the study. To help organise my interpretation of the informants’ lives I engage in a reflexive examination by using theoretical understandings of life history methods which tend to be referred to as a ‘reflective lens’ for the knowledge derived from my own experience of being a researcher in a life history study. Thus, I engage, both here on paper and in my mind, in a kind of dialogue with different forms of my knowing narrative research. I draw on my own articulations about narrative methods with full acknowledgment that my thinking and knowing about narratives are influenced by others such as Bertaux (1984); Denzin (2008); Plummer (2001); Goodson (1981, 1988, 1991, 1992); Knowles (1992, 1993); Measor and Sykes (1992) and Middleton (1992). This paper also provides a discussion of methodological aspects related to the design of the study and style chosen and then moves on to provide a detailed consideration of an ethnographic approach to educational research. The search for a methodological framework that grows out of an approach of reframing power relationships, knowledge construction and individual experiences led me to life history.

Keywords: Narrative Methods, Life History, Life Stories, Critical Theory, Feminism, Multilingual, Literacy Practices, Ethnography

International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, Volume 20, Issue 2, March 2014, pp.29-39. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 12, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 415.976KB)).

Dr. Khadeegha Alzouebi

Postgraduate Programme Director, School of Education, Hamdan bin Mohammed e-University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dr. Khadeegha Alzouebi has a doctorate in Educational Research from the University of Sheffield, England. She also has an MEd and an MA in Education from the University of Sheffield, England. Dr. Khadeegha has worked extensively on school reform, school effectiveness and innovate change management both in England and in the United Arab Emirates. She has over 15 years’ experience in the Education field in many capacities from classroom teaching at both undergraduate and graduate level, to project directorship, to leading school reform, and postgraduate supervision.