Research Focus Group Workshop: The Power of Positionality: Self-Identification in Empirical Legal Writing

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Mark Fathi Massoud

April 28, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

4429 SSMS, Anneberg Conference Room
UC Santa Barbara

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Legal Humanities Event

What is the impact on and influence of the researcher in law and society? Drawing in part from the author’s empirical research and professional experience, this workshop will discuss a paper that investigates the benefits and burdens of positionality. Positionality is the disclosure of how an author’s racial, gender, class, or other self-identifications, experiences, and privileges influence research methods. A statement of positionality in a research paper can enhance the validity of its empirical data as well as its theoretical contribution. But such self-disclosure also risks exposing a scholar to vulnerability, especially because those most likely to reveal how their positionality shapes their research are scholars who identify as women, ethnic minorities, or both. At this stage of the field’s methodological development, the burdens of positionality are being carried unevenly by a tiny minority of researchers. The author concludes by inviting all socio-legal scholars to redress this imbalance by embracing positionality.

Mark Fathi Massoud is Professor of Politics and Director of Legal Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is also Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Oxford. He is the author of two books, Shari’a, Inshallah and Law’s Fragile State, and he is co-editor of the Cambridge Studies in Law and Society book series. Most recently, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Find out more at

Read the paper here

Sponsored by the IHC’s Legal Humanities Research Focus Group


April 28, 2023
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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