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DEV/EDU Seminar Fellow Travellers: Narrative Inquiry in International and Comparative Education

University of East Anglia, School of Education and Lifelong Learning

EDU Room 1.40, 1700 – 1800

21st February 2013


Narrative inquiry is growing in popularity as a research methodology in the social sciences, medicine and the humanities. In narrative inquiry, the transparency of interactions between researcher and research participants, together with rich, contextual descriptions, help to shape and structure research texts rendering them engaging and readable.   In my view, all researchers should foreground the importance of the context in which research takes place and develop methodological approaches that are grounded in their local contexts.  To do so, they need to pay attention to how knowledge is constructed, shared and understood in those contexts. This is particularly important when contexts have been subjugated historically through colonialism and when local, indigenous ways of knowing have been ignored or dismissed.

In this seminar I shall discuss my own approach to narrative inquiry, drawing on a range of projects –mine and others - to show its value for   research in international and comparative education.  Ethical complexities, ways of gathering and re-presenting ‘data’ and limitations of the approach will also be discussed. 


Dr Sheila Trahar

Graduate School of Education

University of Bristol

Sheila Trahar is Reader in International Higher Education in the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol. She has published widely in the area of international higher education and her research and teaching reflects her commitment to inclusivity in higher education. Her book Developing Cultural Capability in International Higher Education: A Narrative Inquiry was published by Routledge in 2010, her edited collection for John Benjamins Learning and Teaching Narrative Inquiry: Travelling in the Borderlands was published in 2011 and her edited book Contextualising Narrative Inquiry: Developing Methodological Approaches for Local Contexts will be published by Routledge in January 2013.   Her edited book Narrative Research on Learning: Comparative and International Perspectives, published in 2006, continues to be one of the few texts to focus on the value of narrative in international and comparative education.    She teaches on the EdD in both Bristol and Hong Kong, the MSc Educational Research in Bristol and has taught on the MEd programme in Hong Kong for several years, leading the programme there since 2008.