Where the math is: reflections on research positioning
David Wagner (University of New Brunswick, Canada)
I develop and interrogate a tool for analyzing the positioning of one’s research, with special interest in the question of mathematics in its socio-cultural context. In particular I focus on a question that underlies critique of research that draws from a sociocultural perspective – “Where is the mathematics?” Considering various calls for authors to situate themselves in their research, I suggest that a full picture of positionality goes far beyond these calls. Thus, I suggest that researchers draw a diagram that depicts the positoining among the people related to their research and reporting as a way of prompting reflection on their positionality. This approach to reflection draws to attention connected storylines that are at play in the various relationships. I provide an example of using this tool by analyzing an article I have co-authored. Though the positioning diagram draws to attention interactions that are not usually reported on in research reporting, the diagram is still a significant simplification of the complex interaction of the storylines at play in the research relationship. I demonstrate the layering of storyline by identifying a discourse that connects partisan politics, the politics of mathematics education research, and the politics of mathematics classroom culture, which was the focus of the analyzed article. I close with questions about such diagrams and about positioning within the field of mathematics education.