8th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

Using Qualitative Interviews to Find Data or Answers in Cultural Communities?
11-23, 17:20–17:35 (Australia/Melbourne), Zoom Breakout Room 1

The main focus of this paper is to understand how qualitative methodology such as interviews could be a preferred way to explore and understand cultural practices such as Female Genital Cutting (FGC) in conservative societies like the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This paper explores how researchers from similar backgrounds can use semi-structured interviews as an effective way to gain a deeper understanding about a practice that has not been acknowledged by the government and is rarely discussed in public. Considering the sensitive nature of this topic within Pakistani society and the ethical fragility of this kind of research which is pursued through western academic institutions or university settings; it is essential to acknowledge the cultural notions involved in research design methodology. This paper takes a closer look at why narratives or story-telling concepts can be useful in gathering data about non-white cultures and communities. These ideas will be investigated through an ongoing thesis title, “Political invisibility of Female Genital Cutting in Pakistani society: Understanding this tradition and its implications on women in the Dawoodi Bohra community”. The research design includes interviews of women who had FGC performed on them as young girls, and it uncovers the complexities and sensitives that need to be considered when analysing or presenting this data. This research design is based on the premise that there are no government statements, statistics or discussions about FGC in Pakistan; and therefore, this research is a qualitative stepping stone towards collecting data about this cultural practice which is shrouded in secrecy. It examines FGC within a close-knit community of Pakistan known as Dawoodi Bohras and establishes a nuanced understanding of qualitative data in cultural settings. In essence, it outlines the significance of story-telling and sharing during interviews which leads to useful qualitative data analysis.

Keywords: Female Genital Cutting, Qualitative Data, Culture, Public Dialogue

Recording link: https://acspri-org-au.zoom.us/rec/share/kl7zX6HT6bPlwSMdjyCiajLHw64xPnP09-fMoKjKQO1L8aMGwJyJs4Fws2C-5g8.8Ec3XepltHW7qMWn?startTime=1669184554000

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See also: Lack of Data & Dialogue on FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) (271.0 KB)

Huda Syyed has worked in academia and the non-profit sector and hopes to actively contribute to research and development efforts in the future. Her current topic of research focuses on the practice of ‘Female Genital Cutting’ and explores the lack of data, political activism and understanding regarding it in Pakistan. Her main academic interests include gender, sexuality and political culture. She is currently a PhD student and at Charles Darwin University. She completed her undergraduate degree from University of Karachi and went onto to pursue a Master’s taught format degree in International Relations at QueenMary University of London. In between, she completed a certificate course at The Graduate Institute Geneva. In the past, she has worked as a Research Assistant for academic projects and was also a Project Coordinator for a non-profit organisation, endorsed by ‘UN Women’ to deal with Gender-Based-Violence cases. She was also visiting faculty lecturer at Bahria University and taught the course of “International Organisations”, and temporarily worked as an editor at newspaper publications.