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

Kat Kolar, Farah Ahmad, Linda Chan, Patricia G. Erickson


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.

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