WLB came to church nearly at the end of my first interview. The first interviewee introduced us. I asked for his consent to be interviewed and he agreed. The first interviewee asked WLB if he came directly from the worksite and if he had had his supper. WLB said that he was from the site and he had not had his supper. The first interviewee, also the leader of one of the church cell groups, offered WLB some cake he brought to church. I also remembered that I had a French bread in my bag. I blamed me for overlooking such important part of people's everyday living and offered him the bread. Quite frequently, we "the researchers" are in the privileged position of being researchers. So, with the label, we can assume a research position that is detached from many aspects of everyday living. "Forgetting" to ask about the interviewee's daily living experiences, sometimes as mundane as whether he has had a meal, tells the presence of such a privilege. With this guilt, I started the conversation. ME: How long have you been in SG? WLB: I have been here in Singapore for about 5 months. I came here in July.
Dec. 15th, 2012 Saturday Through a Chinese church in Singapore, I got the contact information of a migrant worker. I called him on Thursday, Dec. 13th and explained to him my interest in researching migrant workers’ health and their life experiences in China. Besides, I also told him that the director of my research institute, CARE, also would like to talk with him. Since the worker and I go to the same church and he already knows me, he said that he would be able to talk with the director and me on 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15th, 2012, when he would be meeting with his Bible study (cell) group at the church. He said that he would be able to talk with us for a few minutes.
There is an innate connection between power and knowledge production. We seek to understand particular issues and contribute knowledge on a subject but we are only given that space to produce knowledge by our inclusion in the dominant power structure. How do we stay accountable to the voices we are highlighting and in effect, the voices we may be marginalizing? Conducting research from a position in academia is not isolated from power politics and we must consider our position as researchers within the larger power framework. As Mohan explicates:
"If you were to look at the kind of projects that we as communication scientists/scholars work on, you realize very quickly that the positions from which we work are positions that are supported by the power elite and in that sense then, these positions are intrinsically tied to the political economy of knowledge itself. So the productions of knowledge is in and of itself built into a particular kind of politics that renders invisible the voices of the poor, the voices of the margins and at the same time draws its power from erasing the complicity of academic knowledge and its agendas."