Chapter 9: Who Researches? Who Changes? Christian Autoethnography and Muslim Pupil Identity in a Church of England Primary School

The Insider/Outsider Debate - New Perspectives in the Study of Religion - George D. Chryssides

Tom Wilson [+-]
Church of England
Tom Wilson was awarded his PhD from Liverpool Hope University in 2014. He is an Anglican Clergyman, and the reviews editor for Anvil, the Anglican journal of theology and mission. His recent publications include ‘Honour and Shame in a Church of England Primary School’ for Journal of Education & Christian Belief (2014) and Hospitality and Translation: An Exploration of how Muslim pupils translate their faith in the context of an Anglican Primary School (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015).

Description

Between 2010 and 2012, I spent two academic years conducting fieldwork that examined the experiences of Muslim children in an Anglican Primary School. I was not only a researcher in the school, but also chair of governors and curate (assistant minister) at the local Anglican Church, which was closely connected to that school. My position as a researcher was therefore quite complex. The chapter first outline my initial involvement with my research site and the nature of the fieldwork. Second, the question of researcher identity is explored in detail. Problems with the binary insider/outsider category are discussed, and the complexity of my own identity within the fieldsite is examined. I argue in favour of a holistic understanding of researcher identity and the importance of foregrounding the most relevant aspects of personal identity in order to establish a researcher’s position within the fieldsite. The example of my own Christian faith researching amongst Muslims illustrates the point. The third section examines three issues of researcher positionality, namely how truthful, how forthright and how static the researcher should be. The issue of lying in order to progress research is critiqued and the value of honesty about failure to gain access commended. The question of truthfulness is given greater nuance with a discussion of how forthright a researcher should be. This includes a number of examples from my fieldwork, treating issues of honour and shame, doctrinal disagreement and the discrepancy between lived and doctrinal faith. In the discussion of how static one should be, I reflect on how my fieldwork impacted my own understanding of both Islam and Christianity. The central argument of the chapter is in favour of honest self-disclosure by researchers on their own position and the impact their research has had upon them.

Notify A Colleague

Citation

Wilson, Tom. Chapter 9: Who Researches? Who Changes? Christian Autoethnography and Muslim Pupil Identity in a Church of England Primary School. The Insider/Outsider Debate - New Perspectives in the Study of Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Oct 2019. ISBN 9781781793442. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=27462. Date accessed: 20 Jul 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.27462. Oct 2019

Dublin Core Metadata