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© University of Reading 2007 www.reading.ac.uk
Department of Geography & Environmental
Science
Exploring responses to deat...
Introduction
• Cross-cultural research: process of translation
• Much of death and bereavement studies to date rooted
in m...
Death in the family in urban Senegal
research project
• Aim to investigate material and emotional
significance of an adult...
Death in the family in urban Senegal
research project
• Developing approach to data analysis:
– cultural norms around deat...
Complexities of the research
• Time constraints
• Heat & the need for privacy and confidentiality
• Approach of Ramadan an...
Translation issues
• Interview schedules: English to French:
– care within households, caring for the body
– Bereavement, ...
Multiple positionings of the research team
• Multiple and diverse ways each of us understood as
‘outsiders’ or ‘insiders’,...
Emotionality of the research process
• Hubbard et al (2001):
– the emotional labour of the researcher
– the possibilities ...
Producing ‘emotionally sensed knowledge’
• Challenge of reflecting on emotional responses:
conflicts with field researcher...
Interpretation of the data
• Shared and differing positionings of the research
team, experience of the death of a relative...
Interpretation of the data
• Religious beliefs and practices are very apparent:
potential meaning of a death (“it's God’s ...
Conclusion
• Complex process filtered by multiple positionings,
languages and emotions of research team
• Benefits of a re...
Further information...
• Symposium on ‘Family Troubles:
Care and change in diverse
contexts’, University of Reading,
Septe...
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Exploring responses to death in varying cultural contexts: adopting a reflexive approach by Ruth Evans, Jane Ribbens McCarthy, Sophie Bowlby, Joséphine Wouango and Fatou Kébé

Exploring responses to death in varying cultural contexts: adopting a reflexive approach by Ruth Evans, Jane Ribbens McCarthy, Sophie Bowlby, Joséphine Wouango and Fatou Kébé - a presentation at the BSA Death, Dying and Bereavement Study Group Conference in November 2014.

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Exploring responses to death in varying cultural contexts: adopting a reflexive approach by Ruth Evans, Jane Ribbens McCarthy, Sophie Bowlby, Joséphine Wouango and Fatou Kébé

  1. 1. © University of Reading 2007 www.reading.ac.uk Department of Geography & Environmental Science Exploring responses to death in varying cultural contexts: adopting a reflexive approach Ruth Evans, Jane Ribbens McCarthy, Sophie Bowlby, Joséphine Wouango and Fatou Kébé Death, Inequality and Social Difference Symposium, 14 Nov. 2014, BSA London 21 November 2014
  2. 2. Introduction • Cross-cultural research: process of translation • Much of death and bereavement studies to date rooted in medicalised and individualised frameworks developed in global North • Reflexive approach: – language and translation issues – multiple positionings of the research team – emotionality of the research process – interpretation of the data Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 2
  3. 3. Death in the family in urban Senegal research project • Aim to investigate material and emotional significance of an adult death in diverse sample of families of varying socio-economic status and ethnicities in two cities in Senegal • In-depth interviews with 60 ‘bereaved’ adults, children and young people (aged 12-30), 20 local leaders and professionals, focus groups , observations Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 3
  4. 4. Death in the family in urban Senegal research project • Developing approach to data analysis: – cultural norms around death and grief in the UK, Burkina Faso and Senegal – Interviewed each other about own experiences of the death of a relative – Adopt a reflexive and multi-layered interpretive approach to knowing 'narrated subjects' (Mauthner and Doucet, 2008). Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 4
  5. 5. Complexities of the research • Time constraints • Heat & the need for privacy and confidentiality • Approach of Ramadan and fitting interviews around participants' work, schooling and fasting periods. Translation issues • Linguistic usage reflects structural and historical power relationships in Senegal • Working with three languages (English, French, Wolof) Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 5
  6. 6. Translation issues • Interview schedules: English to French: – care within households, caring for the body – Bereavement, mourning: deuil, deudji – Grief: chagrin and peine, peiner Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 6
  7. 7. Multiple positionings of the research team • Multiple and diverse ways each of us understood as ‘outsiders’ or ‘insiders’, ‘strange’ or ‘familiar’ to participants and each other: • Age, gender, ethnicity and class, but also our own experiences of death, our academic expertise, family experience, our presence or not ‘in the field’. • Interviews with each other: deaths involved varied set of family or family-like relationships, and connected in variable ways with our life course and our biographical narratives Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 7
  8. 8. Emotionality of the research process • Hubbard et al (2001): – the emotional labour of the researcher – the possibilities for emotionally sensed knowledge – Issues concerning the sociology of emotions • Interviews with each other: how project connects to emotional lives of team members • Cumulative effects on the research team, feelings of empathy, compassion and helplessness in listening to participants’ accounts • Death of one or more family members or colleague during research led to further personal and shared reflections on death and loss Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 8
  9. 9. Producing ‘emotionally sensed knowledge’ • Challenge of reflecting on emotional responses: conflicts with field researchers’ prior training and experience • Interview profiles to accompany transcriptions • Aim to make visible: – translation of emotions, ideas and socio-cultural norms and practices from Wolof-French-English – individual and shared embodied experiences – reflections and interpretations following fieldwork. Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 9
  10. 10. Interpretation of the data • Shared and differing positionings of the research team, experience of the death of a relative and our presence in the 'field‘ shape our interpretations of the data • Need to understand the meanings and experiences of marriage, family and relationships amongst our interviewees in urban Senegal to understand their experiences of death of a relative Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 10
  11. 11. Interpretation of the data • Religious beliefs and practices are very apparent: potential meaning of a death (“it's God’s will”), how to respond - mourning practices and managing emotions (“Your tears are like pouring hot water on the body”). • Differing perspectives in team: socially accepted way of framing a death that might also offer some comfort, accepting the death? (Fatou and Ruth) • Personal experience of the extreme disruptiveness of grief and the difficulties of containing emotions: religious refrain could create an additional burden? (Jane) Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 11
  12. 12. Conclusion • Complex process filtered by multiple positionings, languages and emotions of research team • Benefits of a reflexive approach: – understand our own positions – to ask questions of the data and develop our approach to interpretation – develop our understandings of the social, material and emotional dimensions of the death of a relative – understand each other as emotional beings. • Multiple professional, research-based, emotional and personal selves as resources Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 12
  13. 13. Further information... • Symposium on ‘Family Troubles: Care and change in diverse contexts’, University of Reading, September 2015. • Contact: r.evans@reading.ac.uk • Updates on our blog: http://www.blogs.reading.ac.uk/deathinthefamilyinsenegal Copyright Ruth Evans 21/11/14. Work in progress, please do not cite without authors’ permission. 13

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Exploring responses to death in varying cultural contexts: adopting a reflexive approach by Ruth Evans, Jane Ribbens McCarthy, Sophie Bowlby, Joséphine Wouango and Fatou Kébé - a presentation at the BSA Death, Dying and Bereavement Study Group Conference in November 2014.

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