Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/amp.2018.0090

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, and 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.

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