The importance of a researcher’s positionality has been well documented in prior studies. Yet, reflections on cross-cultural research from the positionality of a researcher with a migration background are rare. In this paper, I respond to this knowledge gap through a reflexive account of my positionality as a researcher with a migration background who has conducted cross-cultural research concerning dementia care. Following critiques of “ethnic matching,” I apply a reflexive approach in which researcher positionality is understood as intersectional. I illustrate how both commonalities and differences within the researcher-researched relationship impact rapport-building and power dynamics. Also, I highlight how a researcher’s experienced emotions can impact the content and analysis of the collected data. The insights from my reflexive account may help improve research strategies in culturally diverse settings. Moreover, I argue for a reflexive approach – rather than a deployment of “ethnic matching” – throughout future research in this field.


positionality, cross-cultural research, migration, dementia care, ethnic matching

Author Bio(s)

Menal Ahmad is a postdoctoral researcher at the department of Sociology at VU Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her Ph.D. research was conducted at the University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, the Netherlands. She has a background in cultural anthropology and is particularly interested in researching social issues related to migration, gender structures, health, and in/exclusion. Correspondence regarding this paper can be addressed directly to: m.ahmad@vu.nl


The work presented in this paper is part of a PhD research supported by The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw). I wish to thank the research participants and gatekeepers for their contributions to the original study. I am also grateful to prof. dr. Sawitri Saharso and prof. dr. Evelien Tonkens for commenting on earlier drafts of this paper.

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