Workshop Title:

Decolonising Positionality: Examining Racism, Bias and Discrimination


February 14th, 2025 (GMT)


Department of Social Sciences, Northumbria University


  • decolonising positionality
  • examining racism
  • bias and discrimination

Workshop Chair:

Dr. Nafhesa Ali
Assistant Professor in Northumbria University

Personal Bio:

Dr. Nafhesa Ali is an Assistant Professor in Sociology at Northumbria University and an interdisciplinary Sociologist with expertise in the everyday lives of racialized and minority communities. Her interests include ageing, migration, relationships and environmental sustainability. Nafhesa’s publications include her recent book, Older South Asian Migrant Women’s Experiences of Ageing in the UK: Intersectional Perspectives (2024), Storying Relationships (2021) and A Match Made in Heaven: British Muslim Women write about Love and Desire (2020). She also has journal publications in Sexualities, Ethnicities, Ethnic and Racial Studies and Cultural Geographies. Nafhesa is lead for the Power and Intersecting Inequalities (PII) Research Cluster in the Department of Social Sciences at Northumbria University.

Workshop Description:


Reflexivity aids relationships between partners, communities and individuals who are part of the research process by identifying the spaces that may be difficult to navigate because of the ‘absences, silences and invisibilities’, but likewise its ‘implications for the research’ that is being conducted (Smith, 2021, x). Similarly, reflexive positionality serves to aid the researcher’s relationship with the people and places they are conducting the research through their reflection of who they are, and how they are seen during the research process.

This workshop argues for the importance of becoming reflexive researchers and how we share the experiences, practices and negotiations of those we serve to give a voice to - as we as researchers are not separate to the research process. But likewise, we do this to tackle issues of race, discrimination and bias where our positions locate us as researchers of colour, conducting research that is essentially embedded in Western othering.

Goal / Rationale:

This notion of ‘othering’ is what the workshop would like to address and how reflexivity needs to be reconceptualized to more than just the identification of our intersections. For example, lifelong reflex¬ive positions taken by researchers over the course of their academic career which serve to inform and locate different and varying intersectional posi¬tions and relationships with people, places and their own situated identi¬ties across their own life’s course can influence the lens in which they conduct the research, but likewise their interactions with participants. Linda Tuhiwai Smith writes that ‘writing is a part of theorizing and writ¬ing is a part of history’ (Smith, 2021, 30). Therefore, locating our histori¬cal selves and intersectional identities - as researchers - can serve to shed light on the lens we shine on participants and the way in which we inter¬pret and understand their life experiences, but this needs to be more than an add on approach.

The appeal of feminist reflexivity, then, is that it aims to deconstruct power relationships between academics, researchers and participants - those with whom we conduct the research with and the ones conducting the research.

Scope and Information for Participants:

From the vantage point of the social sciences, and historical research methods and approaches, the combination of both history and social science research can be highly useful in locating authority and dismantling hierarchy during the research process through the cultural and historical contexts of everyday experiences - highlighting ‘the world of ordinary experience’, but experiences that can demonstrate how behaviour and values in one society may be dismissed or taken for granted in another.

However, these relationships are never easy and at times can be unsettling. Academics and researchers often have a heightened consciousness of trying not to ‘research others’ but build partnerships and so they are not working on the periphery of the ‘outside’ (Collins, 1991). Therefore, we invite topics exploring the following:

  • Decolonizing reflexivity in Western research
  • Researcher positionality
  • Intersectionality and positionality
  • New ways of thinking about researcher positionality


Sutherland Building, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE1 8ST, Northumbria University, UK


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