Interstitial spaces and limits of identity in ethnographies of politics of immigrant integration
This article seeks to extend scholarship rethinking insiderness in qualitative research through an examination of the shifting terrain of the constitution of insides in an ethnographic research on everyday politics of integration and belonging in eastern Berlin. I reflect here on my experiences as a Slovak national with immigration experi- ence, a nominal outsider to both the country of research, Germany, and its immigrant subjects, the post-Soviet Russian-speaking migrants. Focusing on the production of time-spaces of proximity as a deeply situational process, I stress in particular the un- expected bases for convergence with particular subjects. I argue here that the omission of the more elusive experiential and emotional aspects of relationality at the expense of dominant categories of identity, however intersectionally conceived, produces an impoverished conception of insiderness. The second focus of the article is on the complexities of research on immigrant integration that involves parties/constituencies with structurally varying stakes in the broader politics of integration. Here I highlight the dangers and the dilemmas of an immigrant researcher herself being put into a position of Honig’s (2001) ‘immigrant super-citizen’ in such a research.