Interpretive Methodologies and Methods
APSA 2022, Montreal

The American Political Science Association’s Annual Meeting will be held on September 15-18, 2022 (in person) in Montreal, Québec, Canada. IMM events at the 2022 meeting include:

IMM short course

Ethnography and Interpretive Methods in Studies of Belonging and Migration

Wed, September 14, 9:00am to 1:00pm, Palais, 522A

Session Description

This year’s workshop focuses on ethnography in theoretical and empirical studies of belonging and migration. Scholars at any stage of their research are welcome to attend.

Political Theory and Ethnographic Methods
Dr. Yuna Blajer de la Garza (Loyola University Chicago)

Within political science, ethnographic methods are typically listed among the tools of empirical scholars. But what kind of analytical possibilities are opened by deploying ethnographic methods in normative political theory? In the workshop part of the Methods Studio, Dr. Yuna Blajer de la Garza (Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago) will speak to the ways in which ethnographic methods and an interpretive sensibility can serve political theory research. In particular, she will discuss the richness provided by ethnographic methods for the study of democracies and democratic theory. Ethnographic methods carve space for scholars to understand the ways in which the institutions and ideas we have imagined are (mis)translated when appropriated by ordinary citizens. Making sense of that (mis)translation can help us elucidate the ways in which democratic promises have fallen short to the expectations of those who call democracies home, and the reasons behind the disenchantment of many ordinary people with democratic institutions, a disenchantment that haunts our current historical moment.

Dr. Blajer de la Garza is a political theorist studying inequalities and oppression in democratic societies by focusing on the interactions between formal political institutions, the ideals that undergird them, and everyday practices and norms. In her first book manuscript, provisionally titled A House Is Not A Home: Citizenship and Belonging in Contemporary Democracies, Blajer addresses the interplay between the institutional and the everyday by examining the tension between citizenship and belonging in 21st-century democracies through the figure of the citizen who does not belong. The manuscript draws from insights gleaned through ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Paris and Mexico City between 2015 and 2017. Mexico and France illustrate two incomplete pathways toward democratic belonging. France boasts a strong state with a reliable bureaucracy that secures legal rights, while Mexico’s is beset by corruption, inequality, and inefficiency. The literature on state strength and democratization would expect France to fare better than Mexico in guaranteeing the equal standing of its members—and thus their equal belonging. Counterintuitively, Blajer finds that not to be the case.

Ethnography and Empirical Studies
Dr. Osman Balkan (Swarthmore College)

Part 2 of the workshop will focus on power and positionality in ethnographic research. Participants will reflect upon how their own multiple social positions inform their ethnographies, from shaping the questions they ask, to the communities they engage with, to the data they collect, and the stories they share. We will discuss strategies for planning and conducting immersive fieldwork and participant observation as well as different approaches to ethnographic writing.

Dr. Balkan’s research and teaching interests cohere around the politics of global migration, borders, race, ethnicity, identity, and necropolitics. His first monograph, Dying Abroad: The Political Afterlives of Migration in Europe, explores in detail how immigrant communities navigate end-of-life decisions in countries where they face structural barriers to full citizenship and equal social standing—a phenomenon Balkan terms “death out of place.” It argues that states, families, and religious communities all have a vested interest in the fate of dead bodies and illustrates how the quotidian practices attending the death and burial of minoritized groups in migratory settings are structured by deeper political questions about the meaning of home and homeland. Dying Abroad offers insight into the processes through which relations between authority, territory, and populations are managed at a transnational level.

Expert Panel: Current Research Questions
Alongside co-presenters Dr. Blajer de la Garza and Dr. Balkan, a panel of experts on Interpretive Methodologies and Methods will take questions from audience participants regarding interpretive methods questions in their ongoing projects. This will enable fruitful discussion and audience engagement from which all participants can benefit.

IMM panels

Affect, Vulnerability, and Embodiment: Thinking Interpretively
Fri, September 16, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Palais, 524C

Adding Insult to Injury: Aesthetics of Vilification in Counter-Mobilization, Lisel S. Hintz, (Johns Hopkins University SAIS)
Emotions As Practices. WhatsApp, Emojis and Negotiations at the UNHRC, Jeremie Cornut (Simon Fraser University)
Sensory Politics: Reimagining Embodied Knowing, Michelle Day Weitzel (University of Basel)
Women’s Progress and Vulnerability to Domestic Violence in Rural West Africa, Cathryn Evangeline Johnson (University of Louisville)
Chair & Discussant: Aarie Glas (Northern Illinois University)

New Interventions in Interpretive Research
Sat, September 17, 8:00 to 9:30am, Palais, 514B

These papers offer new interventions into interpretive research methods:
Bringing Humanity Back In: Undergraduate Interpretivism with Contract Grading, Daniel T. Kirsch (Northern Virginia Community College)
Interpretation for Positivists, Richard Nielsen (MIT) and Jasmine Hope English (MIT)
Making the Personal Theoretical: Intersecting Gazes of Researchers and Subjects, Luis Escobedo (University of the Free State)
Crafting Conflict: A Genre Analysis of the Protest Music in the U.S. and Turkey, Audrey Ann Williams (George Mason University)
Chair & Discussant: Anastasia Shesterinina (The University of Sheffield)

Interpretive Approaches to Repression, Resistance, Rebellion
Sat, September 17, 10:00 to 11:30am, Palais, 514B

These papers explore repression, resistance and rebellion through interpretive approaches
How the Protest Became the Riot: Answers from the Casefile, Renata Mustafina (Sciences Po/Yale University)
Narration, Description, and Agency in Knowledge-Production on Yemen, Stacey Philbrick Yadav (Hobart and William Smith Colleges)
Performing Disrespect: Semiotic Violence and the U.S. Capitol Insurrection, Mona Lena Krook (Rutgers University, New Brunswick)
The Shifting Rhetorics of the Syrian Uprising: Politics of Sectarianization, Basileus Zeno (York University)
Chair & Discussant: Nick Cheesman, Australian National University

Another panel of interest

Space Invaders in Comparative Politics? Feminist Women of Color Perspectives
Thu, September 15, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Palais, 524C
Women of color often are treated as “space invaders” to the political science discipline (Alexander-Floyd 2015). Violating the unstated disciplinary norms of cisgender white manhood, our bodies are perceived to bias our research and reduce its generalizability. These perceptions are particularly fraught for women of color scholars who engage in comparative qualitative or interpretive research. Not fully at home among relatively women-friendly but overwhelmingly white comparative qualitative/interpretive scholars nor with U.S.-focused feminist women of color scholars, we must navigate between multiple subfields of this heteropatriarchal white supremacist discipline. Our “outsider-within” location in comparative qualitative/interpretive political science poses distinctive challenges but also presents the opportunity for novel insights on politics, the subfield, and the discipline. Our experiences can and should inform how the discipline works towards a more equitable, inclusive, and just post-pandemic political science. The diverse set of women of color qualitative scholars use autoethnography to map how each author navigates comparative politics and other subfields while also carving out possible spaces of belonging and imagining a more just and inclusive future for political science.

Never Fully Belonging, Always at Risk of Violence: Women of Color Perspectives, Natasha Behl (Arizona State University)
Reflections on Multiple Consciousness and Space Invasion in Comparative Politics, Robin L. Turner (Butler University)
Do as I Say, Not as I Did? Being a Unicorn in a Tough Job Market, Erica Townsend-Bell (Oklahoma State University)
“Don’t You Just Study Filipinos? How Is This Political Science?”: Reflections, Ethel Tungohan (York University)
Chair: Robin L. Turner (Butler University)
Discussants: Zachariah Cherian Mampilly (Baruch College, CUNY) and Sean Yom (Temple University)

Methods Café

Methods Café 2022
Fri, September 16, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Palais, 516C

The Methods Café features a series of tables staffed by specialists with expertise in a range of interpretive methods and approaches, as well as publishing and securing IRB approval for these types of research projects. The Café is an informal setting allowing for one-on-one and group discussions, networking, and support in which visitors are encouraged to arrive at any time, sit at any table they like, and move among tables as they wish. Doctoral students with questions about their research are encouraged to attend, as well as faculty with questions about researching and/or teaching these subjects.

Tables and specialists include:

Analyzing Political Discourse
Eric M. Blanchard, State University of New York-Oswego

Black Women’s Interpretive Approaches
Nadia E. Brown, Georgetown University
Takiyah Harper-Shipman, Davidson College

Comparative Interpretive Methods
Erica S. Simmons, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Nicholas Rush Smith, City College, City University of New York

(Digital) Interviewing
Carolyn E. Holmes, Mississippi State University
Samantha Ann Majic, John Jay College, City University of New York

Engagement and Action
Regina A. Bateson, University of Ottawa
Ethel Tungohan, York University

Indigenous Interpretive Methods
Uahikea Maile, University of Toronto

Interpreting US Social Movements
Joseph E. Lowndes, University of Oregon
Deva Woodly, New School for Social Research

Interpretive Analysis of Violence
Milli Lake, London School of Economics
Susan M. Thomson, Colgate University

IRBs and Research Ethics
Sarah E. Parkinson, Johns Hopkins University

Political Ethnography
Osman Balkan, Swarthmore College
Jillian Schwedler, Hunter College, City University of New York

Positionality, Reflexivity, and Embodiment
Jessica Soedirgo, University of Amsterdam
Robin L. Turner, Butler University

Natasha Behl, Arizona State University
Dara Z. Strolovitch, Yale University

Teaching Interpretive Methods
Tanya Brooke Schwarz, Pi Sigma Alpha
Nick Cheesman, Australian National University


Robin Turner – Chair (Butler University)
Biko Koenig – Chair (Franklin & Marshall College)
B Stone – Host, (The CUNY Graduate Center)

IMM Business meeting

Virtual Interpretive Methodologies and Methods Business Meeting
Sat, September 17, 12:00 to 1:00pm, Zoom.
Register here.

Connect with IMM

  • IMM Website (for award info, course syllabi APSA events, Methods Clinics videos, the New Books Podcast, featured spotlight scholars, and more)
  • Interpretation & Methods listserv (a venue for questions/discussion, information about workshops, conferences, publications, and the like)
  • IMM Facebook group (open to anyone with an interest in interpretivism)
  • Follow us on Twitter

Deadlines for proposal submissions follow APSA rules. See the annual conference program and submission link at For questions, please contact the group’s Program Chair at the email listed above. A pdf copy of the 2022 Call for Papers is available here.

IMM gives three annual awards at APSA Annual Meetings. These announcements may be seen at the Awards link.

For event details aside from the APSA Annual Meetings, please visit the Events and Announcements page.

2021 Annual Meeting: Methods Cafe and IMM Program

2020 Annual Meeting: Methods Cafe and IMM Program

2019 Annual Meeting: Methods Cafe and IMM Program

2018 Annual Meeting: Methods Cafe

2017 Annual Meeting: Methods Cafe and IMM Program

2016 Annual Meeting: Methods Cafe and IMM Program

Past Meetings: Agendas and Minutes

Business Meeting Minutes, 2022
Business Meeting Minutes, 2021
Business Meeting Minutes, 2020
Business Meeting Minutes, 2019
Business Meeting Minutes, 2018; Photo here
Business Meeting Minutes, 2017
Business Meeting Minutes, 2016
Business Meeting Minutes, 2015
Business Meeting Minutes, 2014
Business Meeting Minutes, 2013
Business Meeting Minutes, 2012: APSA meeting canceled due to hurricane.
Business Meeting Minutes, 2011
Business Meeting Minutes, 2010
Business Meeting Agenda, 2009

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