Accomplice, patron, go-between? A role to play with poor migrant Qur’anic students in northern Nigeria

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What does it mean to conduct ethnographic research in a context where inequalities are pervasive? Drawing on experiences conducting research with poor migrant Qur’anic students (almajirai) in Kano, northern Nigeria, this article explores the challenges of establishing productive and ethical research relationships with informants whose social and socioeconomic status is significantly lower than that of the researcher. The article argues that large socioeconomic and educational inequalities demand a rethinking of the subject positions available to researchers in such contexts. In the article, I consider in turn my roles as an ‘accomplice’ of exclusionary elite behaviour, as a ‘patron’ for my informants, and as a ‘go-between’ facilitating access for them to otherwise inaccessible ‘social microworlds’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307–321
Number of pages15
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number3
Early online date7 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

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