Over the years, feminist ethnographers have engaged in a debate critiquing the practice of ethnography in the light of feminist research principles (Enslin, 1994; Patai, 1991; Stacey, 1988; Visweswaran, 1997). However, such literature has left space for further debate on whether ethnographic practices indeed are paradoxical to feminist values in research. Furthermore, while a few writers claim familiarity with conditions outside of the “west” (e.g., Enslin, 1994; Visweswaran, 1997), the majority of these debates and discussions fall outside the boundaries of the third world. As such there exists a gap between “ethnography as a way of feminist research” as prescribed by western authors and as experienced by third world feminist researchers. This paper where I reflect upon my ethnographic experiences with female plantation and apparel workers of Sri Lanka is an attempt at bringing this gap. Here I ask the question “what is the extent to which existing methodological doctrines of feminist ethnography embody the ethical political consideration as applies to third world locations”? Embedded throughout my reflective account are instances where principles of feminist ethnography had failed to fully reflect ethical political considerations specific to the third world, highlighting a need for “new knowledge on feminist methodology” that gives space for the voice of third world feminist researchers to be heard.


Feminist Methodology, Feminist Ethnography, Third World/Postcolonial Scholarship, Research Ethics, Reflectivity

Author Bio(s)

Prajna Seneviratne is a Senior Lecturer in Critical Human Resource Management at Department of Management in the Open University of Sri Lanka. Her research interests are women’s (re)productive labour, Marxist and postcolonial feminist analysis and feminist research methodologies. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: prajnalk@yahoo.com.

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