Methodological dilemmas in migration research in Asia: research design, omissions and strategic erasures

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Recent research on migration in Asia has been enriched by a wide range of methodologies that variously seek to capture the performative, affective and material dimensions of migration and mobility. Rather than interrogate the merits of particular methods for eliciting ‘data’, this paper extends the feminist underpinnings of this new wave of research to offer a reflexive account of the methodological dilemmas in the emotional and material dynamics inherent in practices of migration research in Asia. The paper focuses on the omissions and strategic erasures that lie within in all research choices, and that are revealed through an analysis of emotion, materiality and reflexivity in research. Discussion focuses around two related areas through which omissions and erasures may be cast: (i) the role of emotional identification/dis-identification in framing issues considered worthy of research, and (ii) the materiality of research designs that struggle to ‘capture’ contemporary forms of migration and mobility across multiple research sites. Reflections draw on the author's experiences of researching migration in Indonesia, and are enriched by a consideration of recent contributions to literatures on migration and mobility in Asia and beyond. The paper concludes by considering how a reflexive approach is key to understanding how omissions and strategic erasures come about, and in laying bare the implications for research dissemination and advocacy work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-281
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2011 The Author. Area © 2011 Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)


  • migration
  • qualitative methods
  • reflexivity
  • Indonesia
  • emotional geographies
  • research ethics


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