Under the Mango Tree: Lessons for the Insider-Outsider Researcher


  • 'Ema Wolfgramm-Foliaki The University of Auckland




Auto-ethnography, multiple identities, personal narratives, Pacific Island


An auto ethnographic approach is used to examine the insider-outsider identity of a researcher who is of Pacific Island descent and is also a member of the academy, within the western framework of the dominant culture. Stories from her researcher experience bring situated knowledge into a space that is fraught with tensions, and is highly competitive in nature. Discourses of ‘othering’, power and privilege provide paradigms for critical analysis of the academy.

While storytelling is not new, it is a powerful methodology used by the author to ‘theorise from the flesh’ and to point to past experiences as critical incidences of where her multiple identities are renegotiated as a result of border crossing between her home culture and position as a researcher in the university. She explores the fluidity of the space she occupies as a researcher of her community while working within the academy. Furthermore, she argues that members of the minority cultures at the academy can recognise and use their own positions and voices for enquiry from within.

Author Biography

'Ema Wolfgramm-Foliaki, The University of Auckland

‘Ema Wolfgramm-Foliaki is currently a lecturer at the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education, The University of Auckland.


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