This article discusses personal reflection and reflexive writing as tools to unpack and further develop an understanding of the notion of ‘race’ and its impact on an ongoing research project in science education.
My doctoral work concerns action research in secondary education, and it explores gender issues in the science classroom. In the project seven science and mathematics teachers were involved and it aimed at challenging unequal teaching and learning practices. Over a period of one year, we met every month for group discussions concerning ‘critical incidents’ realting to gender in the classroom. Parallel to readings and discussions, minor practical projects were initiated in the teachers' classrooms, aiming at making the teaching more inclusive.
This specific text, however, demonstrates how my understanding of the research project, which was based on my Swedish gender perspective, was challenged by experiences gained during a visit to South Africa. Reflexivity enabled an ‘intellectual journey’, which forced new issues into the research project. Drawing on Finlay (2002) and other feminist researchers, reflexivity is discussed as a tool in qualitative research. The article problematizes the notion of gender, discusses the notion of intersectionality, and takes personal writing as a starting point for problematizing the notion of ‘race’ in Sweden, as compared to South Africa. It then discusses, through personal narrative, the importance of reflexivity in seeking to understand experience. The final part of the text examines the consequences of having a ‘race’ perspective for the analysis of Swedish research. Theoretical frameworks include critical multiculturalism (May, 1999), and feminist poststructuralism, all of which show how gender, social class and ‘race’ can be made visible as well as the fluidity of these concepts in different contexts (Mulinari, 2004).
Umeå: National School of Gender Research , 2007. 29-42 p.