Episode 2: Reflect on your own identities before going into the field | Nikki Yeboah (San Jose State University)

By Kristin & Katrina

My first experience into design and user research was a call for researchers that came through the Northwestern Anthropology Department to do work in the black community. I jumped at the opportunity because the project was on sickle cell research, and I lost my sister to sickle cell. There is a substantial gap in diverse thought leadership and representation in the research industry. Inclusion is about more than representation but about the making real and lasting change to the status quo as a result of that. I hope for our own field to become more inclusive. GUEST Nikki Yeboah San José State University - Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Nikki.yeboah@gmail.com https://www.nikkiyeboah.com/research.html SHOW NOTES Hear how to ‘review your own identities before going into the field’ from ethnographer, oral historian, storyteller, and educator Nikki Yeboah. Nikki reminds us that the insights field needs to look like everyone and while retrofitting inclusivity is not ideal, it’s what we’re all going to encounter in our work. She encourages us to restructure insights projects to give us the space to be inclusive in work and to value difference when the world is being organized around those insights - start from that perspective and build out. “{Inclusion} It’s not passion that informs my work, it’s necessity. I am a part of a demographic that is often silenced. Doing this work is including myself My ritual is to journal before and after about who I and what makes my interview subject who they are on the table. Then go through what you’ve analyzed and how it impacted them” - Nikki TIPS FROM THIS EPISODE: Reflect on your own identities – with any respondent, even more important for marginalized groups or sensitive topics you need to reflect before and after. It is the first step I take before going into the field. I begin by reflecting upon and journaling who I am (recognizing all my identities), understanding how that may affect the interview, and what perspectives that will bring to the context of the conversation. Also, we often forget that respondents see us and assess us during the interview. Our presence, appearance and identities impact what they reveal in the conversation. “It is not a 1-way mirror.”  Never short cut time to build rapport – It may take more than 1 interview, and longer than 1 hour. If you are going to a community that is not familiar or uncomfortable, then give time and space to really gain the insights needed to answer the objectives of the work.  Be wary of research routines – I encourage researchers to be open to stepping back, re-assessing, and approaching each project with new eyes. In international countries, we value our partnerships and have a conversation with difference and respect. It would be great if we gave the same space in our own country. We may need to do an ego check so that we understand the differences within our own USA culture and acknowledge how our research routine might not work with every and all communities. We are not a homogenous culture. It is both the most difficult part of our country and the most incredible.  Be open to approaching every new project outside of your comfort zone when you’re working with an unfamiliar community to you. We might need to re-approach our approach! MENTIONS Some of the questions I ask myself before entering the field can be found in the Methods section of Critical Ethnography: Method, Ethics, and Performance 3rd Ed. By D. Soyini Madison, under Lay Summary. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/trippod/message

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