Reading difference differently?: identity, epistemology and prison ethnography
Prison ethnographers have tended to downplay the epistemological and methodological dilemmas relating to identity and positionality, which have been more commonly rehearsed in anthropological and sociological ethnographies. This paper explores these issues through a reflexive interrogation of a study of prisoner identities and social relations in two male prisons, with a particular focus on race/ethnicity, class and gender. Drawing from interactions with two prisoners as case studies, it applies Walkerdine et al.’s (2001) psycho-social analytical frame to illustrate how the subjectivities and biographies of researchers are implicated in the dynamics of prison research encounters and analysis. In doing so, it considers the epistemological implications of reflexive practice for interpreting the prison field.