About

Mission Statement:

We at Positionality, from our perspectives as historians-in-training, seek to offer a glimpse at the many aspects of academic life in our podcast. Through various interviews with other scholars, reflections on the many phases of historical scholarship, and discursive discussions of innovative methodologies and theories, we strive to explore the many ways that graduate students navigate the modern world of the history discipline.

The “Positionality” Name:

We derive our name from the anthropological term, positionality, which refers to the reflexive notion that the researcher must situate his or herself in relation to the subject of the study.  The concept dictates no true objective reality can be observed because each person can only interpret events through a veil of their own subjective understanding.  By reflexively accepting this idea, the researcher can and should seek to situate themselves in as transparent a manner as possible in order to convey to the audience the many ways that the researcher’s own biases might possibly dictate the manner in which the research is both conducted and presented.

Purpose:

This podcast seeks to utilize this reflexive approach in analyzing all aspects of the historian’s process.  Through metadiscursive analysis, our subject is the discipline of history itself, and as researchers, it is imperative that we constantly situate ourselves within our work.  As such, throughout our podcasts, we shall remain mindful of perspectives, both of our own, and of the other scholars who we interview and discuss.

Our subject matter will range widely from episode to episode, but segments within each will generally focus on one to four aspects of historical scholarship.  Those aspects are book reviews, the ins and outs of archival research, methods and theory, or general topics of historical research.  In order to interact with these various aspects of historical scholarship, we will engage in interviews with a host of different scholars on a multitude of different topics.  We will present and allow others to present papers delivered at recent conferences.  We will also share reflections on various experiences ranging from visits to archives, to trends we identify in the discipline, and to other events and experiences such as attendance at conferences or award ceremonies.  Through all of this, we will maintain our dedication to exploring the ways that historians approach the study of history.

Support:

We’d like to thank various people and programs here at MSU for their support:

  • The Michigan State University History Department
  • Director of Graduate Studies in History at MSU, Michael Stamm
  • Yelena Kalinsky at H-Net
  • H-Grad from H-Net
  • The LEADR Lab at MSU
  • Brandon Locke at LEADR

References:

Haraway, Donna. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (Autumn, 1988): 575-599.
Robertson, Jennifer. “Reflexivity Redux: A Pithy Poleic on ‘Positionality.’” Anthropological Quarterly 75, no. 4 (Autumn, 2002): 785-792.
Salzman, Philip Carl. “On Reflexivity.” American Anthropologist 104, no. 3 (Sep. 2002): 805-813.
Scholte, Bob. “Toward a Reflexive and Critical Anthropology.” Reinventing Anthropology. Dell Hymes, ed. New York: Pantheon, 1972.