Timeline Mapping in Qualitative Interviews: A Study of Resilience With Marginalized Groups


  • Kat Kolar University of Toronto
  • Farah Ahmad York University
  • Linda Chan University of Toronto
  • Patricia G. Erickson University of Toronto


Growing interest in visual timeline methods signals a need for critical engagement. Drawing on critical emancipatory epistemologies in our study exploring resilience among marginalized groups, we investigate how the creation of visual timelines informs verbal semistructured interviewing. We consider both how experiences of drawing timelines and how the role of the timeline in interviews varied for South Asian immigrant women who experienced domestic violence, and street-involved youth who experienced prior or recent violent victimization. Here we focus on three overarching themes developed through analysis of timelines: (a) rapport building, (b) participants as navigators, and (c) therapeutic moments and positive closure. In the discussion, we engage with the potential of visual timelines to supplement and situate semistructured interviewing, and illustrate how the framing of research is central to whether that research maintains a critical emancipatory orientation.

Author Biographies

Kat Kolar, University of Toronto

Department of Sociology, PhD Candidate

Farah Ahmad, York University

Faculty of Health, School of Health Policy and Management, Associate Professor

Linda Chan, University of Toronto

Dalla Lana School of Public Health, MPH Student

Patricia G. Erickson, University of Toronto

Department of Sociology, Professor