chapter  4
What to Make of Identity and Experience in Twenty-fi rst- century Feminist Research ALLAINE CERWONKA
Pages 14

Developing research insights from the study of people’s ‘experience’ has come to serve as a kind of foundational epistemology for women’s and gender studies. It is the cornerstone of a number of popular feminist research approaches, including oral life history, ethnography, standpoint theory, critical race and postcolonial research, to name but a few. Each of these approaches generates knowledge claims from people’s accounts of their own experiences and understandings of the world in which they live. The use of experience within feminist research has its roots in the mid-twentieth-century tradition of consciousness raising as well as feminist critiques of positivism. As such, drawing on people’s experience (especially those of marginalised groups) is a methodological approach which feminist researchers rarely are called on to defend by other feminist researchers. It has a certain moral status that would be worth discussing if space permitted.