Crossing borders when doing Comparative Education

Year: 2019

Author: Schurch, Roberto

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Researchers in education often have to deal with others’ cultural settings, increasing knowledge away from their home countries (Steiner-Khamsi, 2010). Besides, it is also common to find professionals in public positions linked to education who crossed the border to do research ofpolicy (Lingard, 2013). What is mutual to both type of researchers –even under qualitative approaches– is that they tend to remain themselves outside of their research (e.g. Takayama, 2018; Cox & Meckes, 2016) with the corresponding blind spot for the reader regarding to what extent the examination and experience with cultural or institutional ""otherness"" have shaped their process of knowledge construction.

The proposed poster aims to reveal my positionality conversion both as a person and as a researcher when carrying out a PhD in comparative education and to suggest the ways in which that experience can be applied in the research process as fruitful information. For that purpose, I will expose how the study of other countries within a different cultural and institutional setting has transformed my previous positivistic paradigm, moving me away from a puristic “evidence-based policies” approach. The latter, after two positionality transformations: moving from being the Head of the Research Centre at the Ministry of Education of Chile to becoming a PhD student at the University of Queensland, and from being responsible in Chile of several OECD projects to study their influence in policies on different countries. Those positionality switches have unleashed several tensions, negotiations and opportunities useful to be shared with other researchers. In addition, I will suggest in which sense including the researcher positionality can help the reader to unpack the authors’ interpretations by adding pieces of our socio-historical biography as a context.

The proposed poster will present a brief description of my ongoing PhD project, a summary of my researcher positionality including the potential use of the “multiple identities” I experience and a set of still unanswered questions that have emerged through my reflexivity process. I expect that the poster offers an informal space to share experiences with people that have shifted their institutional or cultural settings when doing research in education, stimulates conversations regarding the impact of that shift in their approaches and provoke those who have preferred to remain as “outsiders” in their research under the illusion of objectivity.