Crowdsourcing Memories: Mixed Methods Research by Cultural Insiders-Epistemological Outsiders

42 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2019

See all articles by Tarun Khanna

Tarun Khanna

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Karim R. Lakhani

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group; Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Shubhangi Bhadada

Harvard University

Nabil Khan

Masssachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University - Broad Institute

Saba Kohli Davé

Barefoot College

Rasim Alam

Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Students

Meena Hewett

Harvard University

Date Written: September 25, 2019

Abstract

This paper examines the role that the two lead authors’ personal connections played in the research methodology and data collection for the Partition Stories Project - a mixed methods approach to revisiting the much-studied historical trauma of the Partition of British India in 1947. The Project collected survivors’ oral histories, a data type that is a mainstay of qualitative research, and subjected their narrative data to statistical analysis to detect aggregated trends. In this paper, the authors discuss the process of straddling the dichotomies of insider/outsider and qualitative/quantitative, address the “myth of informed objectivity”, and the need for hybrid research structures with the intent to innovate in humanities projects such as this. In presenting key learnings from the project, this paper highlights the tensions that the authors faced between positivist and interpretivist methods of inquiry, between “insider” and “outsider” categories of positionality, and in the quantification of qualitative oral history data. The paper concludes with an illustrative example from one of the lead authors’ past research experiences to suggest that the tensions of this project are general in occurrence and global in applicability, beyond the specifics of the Partition case study explored here.

Keywords: Mixed methods; Insider-Outsiders; Myth of Informed Objectivity; Hybrid Research; Oral Narratives

Suggested Citation

Khanna, Tarun and Lakhani, Karim R. and Bhadada, Shubhangi and Khan, Nabil and Kohli Davé, Saba and Alam, Rasim and Hewett, Meena, Crowdsourcing Memories: Mixed Methods Research by Cultural Insiders-Epistemological Outsiders (September 25, 2019). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 20-038. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3468515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3468515

Tarun Khanna

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Karim R. Lakhani (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6741 (Phone)

Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Shubhangi Bhadada

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nabil Khan

Masssachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University - Broad Institute ( email )

415 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Saba Kohli Davé

Barefoot College ( email )

Rajasthan
India

Rasim Alam

Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Students ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Meena Hewett

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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