Positionality in Hazards and Disaster Research and Practice

This CONVERGE Training Module describes the concept of positionality in the context of hazards and disaster research and practice. It highlights how understanding your own positionality–or how your different identities shape your perceptions, interactions, and experiences–can lead to more ethical and methodologically sound disaster work.  

To date, much of the existing literature regarding positionality has focused on its importance for researchers, specifically in terms of interacting with research participants. We expand this frame of reference to consider the importance of positionality for other groups involved in disaster work, such as emergency management practitioners, public health workers, and humanitarian aid workers. Just as considering positionality can help researchers build stronger, more trusting relationships with research participants, understanding positionality can help disaster practitioners better understand the specific needs, challenges, and priorities of the communities where they are working. Accordingly, this module is designed to underscore how a thorough consideration of one’s positionality–regardless of their specific role as researcher or practitioner–can help improve both the ethics and efficacy of work in disaster settings.

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