Article on positionality in migration studies

Broadening the Positionality in Migration Studies: Assigned Insider Category

Author: Ezgi Irgil (University of Gothenburg)
June, 2020

Migration Studies, Oxford University Press


This article contributes to the debates on positionality in migration studies by introducing assigned insider as a new category. I define it as a position when both the interviewees and the researcher are of the same local origin in which the researcher is considered ‘an insider of the host community’ and the interview questions are about a migrant group. I developed this category based on interviews with host community members during my field study in Bursa, Turkey, where I was born and raised. Previous studies focused on the researcher being an insider from a migrant community or being an outsider conducting research on a migrant community different from his/her own.

Assigned insider has two elements that require it to be considered differently: same local origin operates as an overriding feature that goes beyond ethnicity and the interviewees being from the host community involves different ethical aspects than that from a migrant community. I argue that these reflect on the researcher during the interviews through active and passive discontent manifestations of the interviewees. While the former emphasises the direct confrontations of the interviewees that lead them to ‘correct’ the researcher, the latter manifests itself through non-verbal ways, which can result in refraining from answering questions.