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

Frances Giampapa


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) and the intellectual and emotional commitment involved in shaping them. 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 and working beyond it.

Palabras clave

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

Texto completo:

PDF (English)


AHRC. (n.d.). Impact Summary and Pathways to Impact Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from

Benneworth, P., Ćulum, B., Farnell, T., Kaiser, F., Seeber, M., Šćukanec, N.M., Vossensteyn, H., & Westerheijden, D. (2018). Mapping and critical synthesis of current state-of-the-art on community engagement in higher education. Zagreb: Institute for the Development of Education. Retrieved from

Bezemer, J. (2015). Partnerships in Research: Doing Linguistic Ethnography with and for Practitioners. In Snell, J., Shaw, S., & Copland, F. (Eds.), Linguistic Ethnography. Palgrave Advances in Language and Linguistics. Palgrave Macmillan, London. doi:

Brydon-Miller, M., & Maguire, P. (2009). Participatory action research: Contributions to the development of practitioner inquiry in education. Educational Action Research, 17(1), 79-93. doi:

Byrd-Clark, J. S., & Dervin, F. (2014). Reflexivity in Language and Intercultural Education. New York: Routledge. doi:

Cagliari, M., Castagnetti, C., Rinaldi, C., Vecchi, V., & Moss, P. (Eds.). (2016). Loris Malaguzzi and the Schools of Reggio Emilia. New York: Routledge.

Campbell, E., & Lassiter, L. (2010). From Collaborative Ethnography to Collaborative Pedagogy: Reflections on the other side of Middletown project and community-university research partnerships. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 41(4), 370-385. doi: 10.1111/j.1548-1492.2010.01098.x.

Copland, F., & Creese, A. (2015). Linguistic Ethnography: Collecting, analysing and presenting data. London: Sage. doi:

Creese, A., Takhi J. K., Blackledge, A. (2017). Researcher vignettes in team ethnography. In Martin-Jones, M., & Martin, D. (Eds.), Researching multilingualism: Critical and ethnographic perspectives. London: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315405346

England, K. (1994). Getting personal: Reflexivity, positionality, and feminist research. The Professional Geographer, 46(1), 80-89. doi:

Enright, B., & Facer, K. (2017). Developing reflexive identities through collaborative, interdisciplinary and precarious work: The experience of early career researchers. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 15(5), 621-634. doi:

Facer, K., & Enright, B. (2016). Creating living knowledge: The Connected Communities Programme, community-university relationships and the participatory turn in the production of knowledge. University of Bristol and the AHRC Connected Communities Programme. Retrieved from

Giampapa, F. (2010). Multiliteracies, pedagogy and identities: Teacher and student voices from a Toronto elementary school. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne de l’éducation, 33(2), 407-431.

Giampapa, F. (2011). The politics of «being and becoming» as researcher: Identity, language and power in mutlingual research settings. Journal of Language, identity, and education, 10(3), 127-131. doi:

Giampapa, F. (2016). The politics of researcher identities: Opportunities and challenges in identities research. In Preece, S. (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Identity (pp. 289-303). London: Routledge.

Giampapa, F., & Lamoureux, S. (Eds.). (2011). Voices from the field: Identity, language and power in multilingual research settings. Journal of Language, identity and education, 10(3 special issue). doi:

Goffman, E. (1989). On Fieldwork. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 18(2), 123-132. doi:

Henry, M. (2003). «Where are you really from?»: Representation, identity and power in the fieldwork experiences of a South Asian diasporic. Qualitative Research, 3(2), 229-242.

Hornberger, N. (2006). Negotiating methodological rich points in applied linguistics research: An ethnographer’s view. In Chalhoub-Deville, M., Chapelle, C., & Duff, P. (Eds.), Inference and generalizability in applied linguistics: Multiple perspectives (pp. 221-240). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins. doi:

Huot, S. (2018). Co-constructing the field for a critical ethnography of immigrants’ experiences in a Canadian Francophone minority community. Qualitative Research, 19(3), 340-355. doi:

Lassiter, L. E. (2005). The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lather, P. (1986). Issues of validity in openly ideological research: between a rock and a soft place. Interchange, 17(4), 63-84. doi:

Moll, L., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into Practice, 31(2), 132-141. Retrieved from

Ortega, L. (2005). For what and for whom is our research? The ethical as transformative lens in instructed SLA. Modern Language Journal, 89(3), 427-443. doi:

Rampton, B. (2016). Fieldwork rapport and the positioning of sociolinguist(ic)s. In Working Papers in Urban Language & Literacies [Paper 195] (pp. 1-10). King’s College London, Centre for Language, Discourse & Communication. Retrieved from

Rampton, B., Tusting, K., Maybin, J., Barwell, R., Creese. A., & Lytra, V. (2004). UK linguistic ethnography: A discussion paper. Linguistic Ethnography Forum, King’s College London. Retrieved from


Enlaces refback

  • No hay ningún enlace refback.

e-ISSN: 1698-7802

DOI prefix: 10.14516/fde


FahrenHouse: Salamanca, España 

Licencia de Creative Commons
Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial 3.0 España.