Ping-Chun Hsiung, Chair

Forum of Critical Chinese Qualitative Research


The 3rd Pre-Conference for the Forum of Critical Chinese Qualitative Research

A Special Interest Group, the Forum of Critical Chinese Qualitative Research held its 3rd pre-conference on May 18, 2018, in conjunction with the 14th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. With the intellectual commitment of Dr. Norman Denzin and administrative support of Dr. James Salvo, the Forum provided a dynamic, stimulating space of intellectual activism among Chinese practitioners of qualitative research.

This year, the Forum featured three panels. Dr. Zhiyong Zhu (Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University) led the first panel. Scholars and graduate students from Beijing Normal University presented curricula developed and research conducted by qualitative researchers at the University. Their presentations stimulated lively debates among participants about topics such as:

  • the teaching of qualitative methods, e.g. Is it possible and/or advisable to separate techniques from theory in the teaching of QR?
  • challenges in realizing potential of participatory action research at the institutional level, e.g. How to advance the findings of participatory research through institutional and/or policy intervention
  • the practice of reflexivity and notion of ‘neutrality,’ e.g. What does it mean when qualitative researchers claim “neutrality?”.

Dr. Pengfei Zhao (Faculty of Education, Indiana University) and Jinling Duan (Department of Gender Studies, Indiana University) discussed the challenges and implications of the pervasive presence of the Chinese Communist Party state in conducing fieldwork in China. Participants discussed:

  • the difference between conducting QR in so-called authoritarian versus democratic states, e.g. Are there essential differences? Are there overlapping issues?
  • how to frame a research topic pragmatically to overcome unnecessary roadblocks, e.g. What topics are impossible to study? Why is it necessary to stay away from those topics? How can scholars engage in critical QR meaningfully?
  • how to manage the anxiety and uncertainty of doing fieldwork in various political and cultural contexts.

Noa Nahmias (Department of History, York University) presented her dissertation research on compiling, editing, and translating popular science in Republican-Era Shanghai. Ping-Chun Hsiung and Teresa Lau (Department of Sociology, University of Toronto Scarborough) presented analysis on investigative research conducted by the Women’s Federation during the Great Leap Forward (1958-62). Professor Shuji Cao (Department of History, Jiaotong University) provided succinct comments on directions, possible sources of data, and analytical angles.

Participants indicated the need to map out the historical development of qualitative research in the Chinese context. It will be meaningful to examine how the path of Chinese development might be different that of United State, identified by Norman Denzin and others in the Handbook of Qualitative Research. Prof. Zhu mentioned the on-going efforts to translate the latest version of the Handbook into Chinese, under his leadership.

As a whole, participants appreciated the opportunities provided to them by the Forum. There was a consensus among those who had attended the Forum since its establishment that the breadth and depth of the discussion has increased.

In the last session, participants identified the following thematic topics for the Forum, 2018-19: research ethics; doing fieldwork in China; and the development of QR in the Chinese contexts. Participants also discussed the feasibility and logistics of implementing the best paper award in the coming year.