Militantly ‘studying up’?: (ab)using whiteness for oppositional research

Clare, Nick (2017) Militantly ‘studying up’?: (ab)using whiteness for oppositional research. Area, 49 (3). pp. 377-383. ISSN 1475-4762

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This paper develops the idea of militantly ‘studying up’. Through a discussion of research into the relationship between migrants and social/labour movements in Buenos Aires, Argentina, it explores the way in which my positionality both helped and hindered the (militant) research process. As the possibility for militant research seemed to recede, by interrogating the antagonisms bound up in the disjuncture between my perceived and my performed positionality, I was able to retain a commitment to militant research/research militancy. The movement to a form of oppositional (auto)ethnography was underpinned by an (ab)use of my whiteness. This touched on new possibilities for militant research, and also afforded further reflection on the structuring power of whiteness itself. Situating itself against-and-beyond discussions of militant research, this paper explores not only the rich potential but also the difficulties and limitations of such a methodology. In this regard it foregrounds discussion of failure as a key reflexive strategy. Ultimately it argues that there is potentially value in ‘studying up’ within militant (migration) research, but that concerns surround the (re-)reification of the very identities and structures that are intended to be deconstructed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: "This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Clare, N. (2017), Militantly ‘studying up’? (Ab)using whiteness for oppositional research. Area. doi:10.1111/area.12326, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Keywords: Militant research, Whiteness, Argentina, Autoethnography, Positionality, Migration
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Geography
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2017 13:43
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 18:33

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