This essay bridges the gaps in the literature within legislative studies by illustrating the usefulness of feminist ethnography as a methodological intervention into studying legislative behavior. Black feminist epistemology is a useful tool for making new knowledge claims within an existing body of knowledge. I use anecdotes and examples from my fieldwork in the Maryland state legislature to expose how race and gender impact both the process and the outcome of data collection. I demonstrate how my experience as an African American woman researcher whose work centers on Black women Maryland state legislators, which I situate within Black feminist epistemology, shaped my access to subjects and data interpretation. The points of information that legislators shared with me, my access to them, the assumptions they made about me, gaps in conversation, and the context in which they shared their policy positions, were all mediated by my own identity. By placing my experiences as a Black woman at the center of analysis, this study offers fresh insight on the prevailing paradigms and epistemologies in legislative studies.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.