Entry, access, bans and returns: reflections on positionality in field research on Central Asia’s ethnic minorities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Drawing on fieldwork conducted in post-Soviet Central Asia, the chapter explores questions of researcher positionality in relation to research on ethnic minorities. This allows me to reflect on my own positionality as an international researcher from an institution in the Global North conducting fieldwork in authoritarian, conflict/post-conflict and/or illiberal contexts. The chapter uses experiences and lessons learnt as regards entry and access to ‘the field’—as well as bans and subsequent returns—to reflect on issues of privilege and (self-)representation, and more generally situated knowledge, in order to shed light on how my identities impacted on the production of knowledge and the way in which my research was shaped by the structures in which it was embedded and being created. The chapter compares challenges and opportunities in entry and access to three field sites different in terms of time, place, and open-ness of the research environment: the case of the Tajik community in Uzbekistan; the position of ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and their relationship with Uzbekistan; and the ethnic Koreans in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The chapter draws on lessons learnt over multiple rounds of fieldwork from 2001 to 2021, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. As it highlights the fluid and relational nature of positionality(-ies), the chapter calls for active reflexivity to more consciously reflect on researcher positionality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave handbook of social fieldwork
EditorsNasir Uddin, Alak Paul
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783031136153
ISBN (Print)9783031136146, 9783031136177
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2023


  • Central Asia
  • Fieldwork
  • Positionality
  • Minorities


Dive into the research topics of 'Entry, access, bans and returns: reflections on positionality in field research on Central Asia’s ethnic minorities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this