The politics of identity in organizational ethnographic research: ethnicity and tropicalist intrusions
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The article addresses aspects of the politics of identity that became manifest in the researcher-researched relationships in the context of an organizational ethnographic field study at a UK-based printing business. As the fieldwork commenced, it quickly became apparent that the researcher's Brazilian nationality and Latin American ethnic identity were being performed and responded to in certain specific and problematic ways. This study analyzes the dynamics of identity work and identity politics in ethnographic and other qualitative research. However, the specific contribution of this article is that it examines the questions that arise when the typical structures and patterns of research practice - which are themselves embedded in a spatialized politics of knowledge - are reversed. Historically, research in the social sciences (including management and organization studies) has been conducted by researchers from the center in relation to others in the non-center. Furthermore, in so doing, epistemologies, theories and methods developed in and for the center are deployed to examine and explain phenomena in those other places. This article addresses the question of what happens when the researcher is from the non-center and is conducting research on those from the center. This inversion is increasingly common and has significant implications not only for research practice and the politics of knowledge but also for international business relations more generally.