My QI 2010 paper

Here is my QI 2010 paper, which I plan to expand into an article for submission to an appropriate qualitative journal. All comments gratefully received!

To see my reflections on this conference participation experience, click here  (you may need to scroll down as these reflections were posted in early June 2010).


  • Magda Rostron

    I’m a little behind with my blogging – but wanted to put in a couple of comments anyway. I really enjoyed reading your paper, Tanya – it’s well written and concerns a topic close to my heart and interests. I’ve been living in a similarly conservative Arab country, Qatar, which however is extremely rich and fast-developing. It does offer its women education and opportunity, as you put it in one of your responses – but any deep, lasting, sustainable changes instituted by them within the local social/cultural parameters are yet to be seen, although, undeniably, significant progress towards societal transformation and emancipation of women has indeed been made.

    What I particularly liked about your paper and your way of presenting the issue of the researcher vis a vis the researched is the idea of giving something back – after all, as researchers we do take away rather a lot from our researched in terms of our own intellectual empowerment for instance.

    However, one aspect of the paper, the narrative, left me with a slight sense of unease – and I would be fascinated to find out if your treatment of it was intentional and if so, then why. As I read Arwa’s story of her concealed pregnancy and the effect its concealment and then the realisation, verbalisation, the whole “telling and re-telling’ of the story had on her, I thought that an essential ingredient was missing in the story – namely the detail concerning Arwa’s marital status.

    Of course, I could only assume that she WAS married – although it’s not explicitly stated in the text – she must have been – and part of her subsequent feeling of empowerment stemmed from that simple fact. Had she NOT been married and tried to conceal her pregnancy, well, she wouldn’t have been empowered, instead, she would have been beheaded by the honour-guarding male members of her family.

    It is only within the cultural/societal/religious confines of her immediate environment that she could experience the empowerment you facilitated for her via the narrative she created. But to keep the narrative completely true I think it is important to make those very specific circumstances clear.

    I’d love to read more!


  • Magdalena De Stefani

    Tanya, I’m impressed! I will see what I can get my hands on 🙂 Thank you so much!!

  • Tanya Halldórsdóttir

    Well if you are going to be pedantic…the only one that springs to mind is Dollard, and his (1949) Criteria for the Life History…

  • Tanya Halldórsdóttir

    Dear Magdalena,
    Time for Part 2, or should that be Part 3 now? As far as the emancipatory aspects of your work are concerned, the bulk of the pertinent literature I am familiar with has its foundations in feminist perspectives, Patti Lather’s work from the 1980‘s onwards has been highly influential in theoretical terms (multiple journal articles are available online) and it is a concept that seems to crop up most often in the context of gender/queer studies, and disability (I can provide references for these if you have time to read around the subject).

    On the subject of emancipation within education specifically, you might find bell hooks’ (1994) Teaching to Transgress. Education as the Practice of Freedom and Munro’s (1998) Subject to Fiction. Women Teachers’ Life History Narratives and the Cultural Politics of Resistance interesting, although if you only have time to read one book, I’d suggest dipping into McLaughlin & Tierney’s (1993) Naming Silenced Lives: Personal Narratives and Processes of Educational Change.

    Hope you enjoy these 🙂

  • Tanya Halldórsdóttir

    Dear Richard,
    Do you have something against D??? I am happy to provide the missing letter anyway, Johnson and Golombek’s (2002) Teachers’ Narrative Inquiry as Professional Development….

    • Richard Fay

      A deserved riposte re missing D 🙂

      A demanding task too … a recommendable narrativist writer beginning with D …. ???? hmmmmm

  • Richard Fay

    Great. 🙂

    Anybody got an E, F, ….. omega?

  • Tanya Halldórsdóttir

    Hi Magdalena
    Thanks for your comments on my QI 2010 paper, and welcome to the wonderful world of narrative!
    As a jumping off point, and for a ‘philosophy’ of narrative, I would thoroughly recommend Jerome Bruner’s (1986) Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, where he discusses narrative ways of knowing, and talks about stories providing “a map of possible roles and of possible worlds in which action, thought and self-definition are permissible” (pg 66).
    For an excellent introduction to narratives and teaching, I suggest Freeman’s (1996) discussion of “knowing the story of teaching”, which forms a chapter (pgs. 88-115) of Bailey & Nunan (Eds) Voices from the Language Classroom.
    For an analysis of the different types of knowledge, or different stories that influence, guide or indeed even obstruct teachers’ development, you could look at Clandinin & Connelly’s (1995) Teacher’s Professional Knowledge Landscapes.

    That’s my A, B, C for you. Happy to provide the rest of the alphabet, depending on how much time/interest you have! Enjoy 🙂

  • Richard Fay

    Where to begin? Viv, Tanya, Eljee, Carol? Suggestions please 🙂

  • Magdalena De Stefani

    Thanks Richard, that’s all very useful!
    No, I really haven’t got a reason to soft-pedal the narrative as you say. I think it can be a very powerful way to show the outcomes of my research. I have to admit I’m not as familiar as I should be with the NI literature so that’s why I thought it wasn’t possible to do it together with thematic analysis. Can you suggest some readings?

  • Richard Fay

    Hi Made
    I think I am following you. So, you are both presenting their story-like trajectories and also doing a kind of (narrative inquiry like) thematic analysis? I add the NI part in brackets to bring out how a narrative approach involves both the possibility of (re-)presenting the stories as well as analysing them (i.e. the analysi could be seen as the narrative inquiry part). This NI part is usually, but not exclusively, done thematically …. others may want to chip in here … Anway, I can see no reason to soft-pedal / peddle the narrative aspect unless you so choose … i.e. there is no methodological reason to minimise it but this may not be the hook you wish to use …

    There is quite bit of NI work exploring teachers’ professional knowledge-scapes and this work may be interesting vis-a-vis the ‘false dichotomy’ between personal and professional.

    Tanya may have things to say about the emancipatory angle too …

  • magdalenadestefani

    Hi Richard

    My chapter is still very drafty, but slowly it’s beginning to take shape, or so I hope. In this chapter I tell the stories of two of the teachers who have been taking part in the teacher development programme I have been designing and tutoring since 2008. What I’m trying to do is tell their stories in a linear fashion, identifying certain stages in their developmental trajectories. Through the narrative, I want to capture how their professional identities have evolved while taking part in the programme.

    However, it’s not strictly narrative because although it’s story-like, I have been doing thematic analysis, so I have been focussing on the identification of themes and trying to produce thoughtful data displays 🙂

    As for the emancipation and empowerment issues, first of all I have to say that this is an action research study in which I’m working with participants in order to facilitate their professional empowerment. (Though truth be told, at the moment I’m having trouble with the professional-personal dichotomy, wondering if it really exists). Anyway, for many of these participants, their empowerment is closely linked to professional emancipation in its social, political sense. That is, the process of acknowledging that there is a certain degree of unfairness in their place of work, and being able to change this reality.

    Do you see what I mean? All thoughts very welcome 🙂

  • Richard Fay

    Hi Made
    When you say “Although I’m not using narratives as such, I do have a chapter where I tell the ’stories’ of two teachers, and I’m liking the idea of the narrative more and more….”, this intrigues me. Maybe somewhere you could say a bit more about this narratiev chapter (since there are quite afew narrativists around in the community who might have things to suggest etc)

    Also, “though I wouldn’t define my research as emancipatory, it has had some outcomes which have led to empowerment and ‘professional emancipation’”, again I would love to hear more …. teasing out this ‘link’ between the emancipatory and empowerment, this extension of emancipatory action in broader terms with emancipatory actin more professionally focused etc. Some fascinating posibilities here, no?

  • Magdalena De Stefani

    Hi Tanya,

    Just a line to say I loved your paper so much. It’s so powerful and moving in the way it’s told, and you’re making the greatest contribution of all by actually helping these women to find their own voices. That’s really big.

    In many ways I felt it is related to my research as well. Although I’m not using narratives as such, I do have a chapter where I tell the ‘stories’ of two teachers, and I’m liking the idea of the narrative more and more…. Also, though I wouldn’t define my research as emancipatory, it has had some outcomes which have led to empowerment and ‘professional emancipation’.

    Thanks for sharing this. Now I want to read more!

  • Tanya Halldórsdóttir

    And it gets worse, I’m afraid. Apparently a number of cities and regions in Spain are also in the process of outlawing the veil in public places…all of which just adds grist to the mill of the Bin Ladens of this world, and makes us ALL less safe (sigh)….

  • Tanya Halldórsdóttir

    Hi Eljee, thanks for reading the paper, and for your thoughts on the subject. Having spent more than a decade living with Muslim women in an impoverished and extremely conservative Islamic state, and having been a ‘good Muslim wife’ myself, I have had the privilege of seeing ‘girl power’ Muslim style, although sadly I have also seen up close and personal the abuse and marginalisation suffered by many women. As a result of my own experiences, and watching women develop a sense of their own potential in the workplace, and then like Arwa go on to not only stand up for themselves but advocate on behalf of their less fortunate sisters, I am convinced that given education and opportunity, women could transform civil society in Yemen, whilst still remaining within the parameters of more liberal interpretations of Islam.

    It is the sweeping generalisations so frequently encountered in the Western media that annoy me, particularly on the subject of the veil. What commentators fail to realize is that the majority of women who wear the veil in Europe do so out of choice (and for an enumeration of the lengthy list of reasons why, I can send you a case study I have recently written on this very subject) and the recent criminalisation of the veil in France and Belgium means that those women who ARE forced to veil will now become prisoners in their own homes, unable to set foot outside, and those who wear it through choice are now denied the exercise of that right. So, legislation that was justified on the basis of human rights actively discriminates against and disempowers Muslim women – and this is in the ‘enlightened’ West?

    What is so often overlooked in the UK/Europe is the fact that Muslim women don’t want to stop being Muslim women, they just want access to things like education and jobs. They don’t want to be ‘liberated’ by well-intentioned outsiders, they would simply like access to the rights that their religion grants them, but tribal, social and patriarchal structures often obstruct. The Western view of veiled women as non-persons actually colludes with the Eastern conservative male establishment to deprive women of education, opportunity and self actualization. In my humble opinion!

  • Richard Fay

    All of this makes me think of the Becoming Global materials Tanya. Maybe Eljee might find them fun?

  • Eljee Javier

    I’ve just read your QI 2010 paper and I found it really revealing for myself and my own preconceptions of Muslim women (i.e. oppressed, hidden etc.) that form a stereotype in my head. It’s ironic given that I teach a lot of Muslim students, particularly women, who don’t “fit” into my narrow view. Though I wonder how do you keep your head above the media hype yet balance your own views, given that your experiences?

  • Richard Fay

    Very informative, thank you. Let’s see if this year we can help you be more successful on the journal article submission front.

  • Tanya Halldorsdottir

    Good question! The QI 2009 paper was on research that looked at the ways in which readers responded to an excerpt of a Yemeni woman’s life history. It was clear that some readings had been influenced by negative stereotypes of Muslim women and understandings of them as powerless, oppressed non-persons. As my research is explicitly emancipatory, and the aim of publishing these life stories is to empower the women involved, as well as raise wider awareness of ways in which Yemeni women experience and assert their agency, this was distressing. So, as a direct result of that outcome, I started to search for ways in which I could make my storytellers more ‘present’ in the text, to get them to articulate more overtly their sense of self and make their motivations more accessible for a distant audience, rather than relying on my mediation of the text. And it is this process of exploration and discovery that forms the basis of the QI 2010 paper, so very much a continuation – although my positioning of those disempowering readings has changed considerably as I have searched for ways to enable people to access alternative understandings…this was the topic of my Narrative Matters 2010 paper.

    As a part-time student with a demanding professional job, I use conference papers as a way to maintain momentum and further my research agenda. I work out what I need to do next and then submit abstracts on the basis of work yet to be done. When abstracts are accepted, I HAVE to do the research regardless of other priorities, and whilst I have collected very rich and generative data in which I could happily ‘wallow’ for extended periods, I find having to narrow my focus sufficiently to provide a concise and informative 15 or 20 minute paper on a subject to be a good academic discipline, and one which forces me to take the anticipated needs, wants and knowledge of my audience/s as my starting point, rather than an after thought!

    One area in which my follow through has been weak so far, is submitting papers to journals, last year two editors invited me to submit articles, but time constraints (civil wars, bombs, etc) meant that I felt unable to prioritise this sufficiently, and therefore lost out on potential publications. I am determined this year however to submit expanded versions of both my conference papers to journals, so watch this space!

  • Richard Fay

    Out of curiosity, how do this topic relate to the previous QI experience? What was that paper about? Do you find that you can use a sequence of performances to build some momentum on an area or do they tend to be separate pieces? Do they aid or distract your thesis thinking and drafting? I ask because I find my own thinking can be pushed by a succession of related conference papers but I then do not always capture each stage of my thinking in the form of a ‘hard’ publication, i.e. am am pushing on towards some goal and miss out on publishing the steps alog the way perhaps (or maybe I’ m not ready to do so, or ….)