From the Margins: Positionality in Area Studies


  • Kristina Garalytė Vilnius University
  • Karina Simonson Vilnius University


area studies, positionality, Dalit studies, African studies, Lithuania, Eastern Europe


This article analyzes the positionality of the researcher in the field of area studies, taking as an example our engagement with African and Dalit studies and issues of race and caste. We present an autoethnographic essay on our own historically constituted agentive positionality by weaving together different angles of inquiry – Lithuanian area studies (and its institutional context), Lithuania’s position in the post-Soviet and postcolonial narratives (the historical context), and our positionality in area studies and our particular fields of research (the personal context). The article shows how we as researchers construct our professional identities and relations with our interlocutors as we navigate through the Soviet past and the globalized present. We argue that the crucial question for
scholars of area studies is not only the macro-political context in which knowledge production takes place (the predominant focus of area studies for decades), but also the personal micro-dimensions of knowledge production, which are inherent in the particular researcher as a historically constituted and strategically acting individual.

DOI: 10.14712/23363231.2022.7