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Pengfei Zhao, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

I have an interdisciplinary background in inquiry methodology, sociology, and cultural studies. In my theoretical and methodological work, I draw from a wide spectrum of theories—from critical theories to contemporary pragmatism, feminism, and post-colonial studies—to formulate a praxis- and social justice-oriented qualitative research methodology. I develop scholarship on critical ethnography, feminist and narrative methodology, participatory action research, and mixed methods studies. I address key methodological issues in the tradition of critical qualitative methodologies such as validity, ethics, and translation. My writing responds to the ontological, epistemological, ethical, and methodological challenges of conducting qualitative research in a politically troubled and culturally diverse contemporary world.

In my empirical work, I use both Mandarin Chinese and English to perform research in the United States, China, and the cross-Pacific transnational context. I am particularly interested in children’s and youth’s identity formation—the gendered and racialized process of socialization, and the various dynamics within and beyond families and communities in perpetuating and/or disrupting the reproduction of social inequality.