An Unfinished Critical Ethnographic Journey: Collaborative Reframing and Repositioning of Relationships in the Field

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This paper explores my on-going collaborative research journey that began in 2009 with a critical ethnographic investigation into the ways one early years school in Bristol was working to advance a pedagogy of respect that drew on the multilingual and multiliterate out of school practices of children and their parents in order to open possibilities for in-school learning. The project was framed within a critical ethnographic approach that is underpinned by a philosophy of democratic and collaborative ways of working within the field; acknowledging identities, positionalities and relations of power as constructed within and across institutional settings. In this paper, I present the collaborative learning trajectories and relationships between myself, as researcher, and Lara, the Head Teacher, a key participant within this project. I situate this within a critical reading of researcher identities, collaboration and research-community partnerships within a scholarship that draws on arguments for the democratizing of knowledge production, the re-evaluation and transformation of field relationships through reflexive practice (Byrd Clark & Dervin, 2014; Facer & Enright, 2016; Giampapa 2011). What evolved through this unfinished critical ethnographic journey is an understanding of the underlying “practical, personal and symbolic” reasons (Facer & Enright, 2016, p. 59) for field relationships as a starting point in order to build deeper forms of engagement. These deeper forms of engagement generate different ways of knowing that are co-created, ethically grounded, socially responsible and action oriented. (Campbell & Lassiter, 2010). I stress the transformative power of these field conversations that were able to evolve and shape new ways of understanding as a result of the longevity of being in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-184
Number of pages18
JournalForo de Educación
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2019

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Knowledge, Culture, and Society
  • SoE Language Literacies and Education Network


  • Researcher identities
  • university-community partnerships
  • critical and linguistic ethnography


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