EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution

(P109)

Collaborating in the field: participatory forms of anthropological research (re)examined

Location T-409
Date and Start Time 02 August, 2014 at 09:00

Convenors

Liza Debevec (International water management institute) email
Anja Katharina Salzer (Free University of Bolzano) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This panel aims to bring together anthropologists from academia and development organisations to examine the new ways in which participatory ways of approaching anthropological research can help us better engage with our informants and create collaborative forms of anthropological knowledge

Long Abstract

This panel aims to bring together anthropologists from academia and development organisations to examine the new ways in which participatory ways of approaching anthropological research can help us better engage with our informants and create collaborative forms of anthropological knowledge.

It intends to critically engage with, and (re)examine ways in which anthropologists working both in academia and development world use various participatory methods in their research and what such participation entails. As Cornwall and Jewkes have suggested in 1995 seminal piece on participatory research, the aim of such an approach is to "focus on locally defined priorities and local perspectives". They further pointed to the issue of the "location of power in the various stages of the research process." (1995:1668).

In the panel we wish to discuss the challenges to participatory research and how these can be overcome by understanding the complexities of power relations between the researcher and the community and even more importantly the complex power relations within the communities that we as anthropologists engage with.

We welcome contributions from anthropologists from various backgrounds and papers that discuss participatory approach from either a more theoretical perspective or focusing on specific forms of participatory approach used in the field, both in applied and non-applied forms of anthropological engagement. We particularly encourage contributions that are of collaborative nature and that have been written (or possibly filmed) using innovative techniques and are a result of cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural collaboration.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Transdisciplinary research for sustainability: power relations and the production of knowledge

Authors: Marinus Gebhardt  email
Anja Katharina Salzer (Free University of Bolzano)  email
Susanne Elsen (Free University of Bolzano)  email

Short Abstract

In transdisciplinary participatory research the question of power arises at various levels. At the example of a research project in the South Caucasus some of the methodological and practical challenges of joint knowledge production, with different stakeholders from research and practice, will b

Long Abstract

Challenges of global change such as loss of biodiversity and the resulting life-world problems at the local level are often highly complex and located at many different levels. Sustainability in terms of a future orientation is seen as a key in facing these challenges. As disciplinary analyzes quickly reach their limits research and practice for sustainability require comprehensive and integrated approaches (Jahn, 2001; Elsen, 2011; Schneidewind & Singer-Brodowsky, 2013).

The transdisciplinary project is working on the interrelation of local land-use practice with the sensitive biodiversity of alpine ecosystem in the Javakheti region in Georgia aiming to transform its findings into sustainable practice. As pasture systems can not be considered independently of their wider socio-economic context the research is taking into consideration sustainable regional development at large. In order to realise a participatory vision of sustainable local transformations, with respect to the co-construction of knowledge and empowerment of civil society actors, various participatory methods from anthropology and other fields are applied. Within the transdisciplinary research project the question of power and power relations arises at various levels, in particular with regard to the joint production of knowledge with a multitude of different stakeholders from research and practice.

The paper will provide insights into the ongoing empirical research process and critically discuss some challenges in terms of knowledge production, cooperation and integration that arise from transdisciplinary work on sustainable transition processes. This also implies a reflection of the role of anthropology, and an examination of the field of tensions between research and practice.

Romanipen network governance: how deep could be engagement in Gypsy world?

Author: Maciej Witkowski (University of Business in Dąbrowa Górnicza)  email

Short Abstract

Many Roma leaders look for democratic legitimization merging Romanipen with "radical democracy" discourse. Accounting complex involvement of anthropologist in personal interdependence to all parties, I will examine moral multiplicity of perspectives from which one can evaluate the situation.

Long Abstract

In Central and Eastern Europe we observe new local tensions, the source of which is the concept of Roma integration to "democratic" and "inclusive" mainstream society adopted in the European discourse, and the means of its implementation. Numerous funds are granted on the basis of competition procedures and, thus, create a ground for rivalry between Roma and non-Roma, as well as among Roma themselves. The traditional taboos of Roma and the old cultural divisions acquire new meanings. Roma environments and its non-Roma surroundings are often driven by a ruthless struggle between various parties protecting their interests, with both lawsuits and threats of violence used as arguments.

Many Roma leaders adapting to new conditions look for democratic legitimization merging secret traditions of Romanipen with transparency and "radical democracy" discourse. This applies to both large-scale political projects designed as schemes of global reach, such as the project aimed at creating a Pan-Roma identity, as well as local actions meant to strengthen the Roma's ties with local communities.

The paper is based on the results of ethnographic fieldworks in local Roma settlements in Poland, their social environment, Roma elites, authorities and professionals who work in "Roma projects" conducted over the past two years. In this context, complex involvement of anthropologist in mutual interdependence to all entities will be presented. In particular, I will examine moral multiplicity of perspectives from which one can evaluate the changes.

Guide of best practices in adolescent mental health: using participatory methods in medical anthropology research

Author: Natalia Lledo Carceller-Maicas (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)  email

Short Abstract

The use of participative methodologies as a way of approaching anthropological research help us to integrate our informants like an active part in the research process, creating collaborative forms of anthropological knowledge like our Guide of Best Practices focused on adolescent mental health services.

Long Abstract

The use of participative methodologies as a way of approaching anthropological research present interesting advantages since could help us to have a better engagement with our informants and create collaborative forms of anthropological knowledge.

Inside the project we have been working, focused on young people mental health, we used a participative approach to investigate the non-help-seeking process between young adults in the mental health services in Spain.

We worked in a multidisciplinary and participative way in order to construct a Guide of Best Practices with pragmatic character that result of usefulness to correct the barriers detected in the process of non-help-seeking, and to help to improve in this way the professional practices and the access to specialized services, between other multiple aspects. This Guide was created together with young people, mental health professionals and researchers.

The fact of working together with the principal involved actors has allowed us to compile the experiences and perceptions of both, there being generated thus a dialog in which both perspectives have managed to join, which has allowed us to obtain a material which will be of practical usefulness.

Our experience shows that the use of a methodological approach based on the participative research enriches both the process of investigation, and the obtained results, having in addition a direct impact in the daily occupation of the actors involved in the phenomenon, helping at the same time to improve the professional and academic practice, empowering the actors integrating them as proactive part of the process.

Anthropologists and participatory research in research for development projects: case studies from Ethiopia, Ghana and Burkina Faso

Authors: Liza Debevec (International water management institute)  email
Beth Cullen (International Livestock Research Institute)  email
Katherine Snyder  email

Short Abstract

In this paper we examine participatory approaches in R4D, by comparing methods (3D participatory mapping, ComMod, Innovation platforms and other forms of participatory workshops) in concrete examples from R4D projects in Ethiopia, Ghana and Burkina Faso

Long Abstract

As anthropologists working in research for development (R4D) we are under pressure to use participatory methods in our research. However, the level and quality of participation often vary from one project to another or even within a single project, due to the type of participatory approaches used and due to differing perceptions by researchers and other stakeholders of what participation is all about.

In this paper we examine the good and the bad of participatory approaches in R4D, by comparing methods (3D participatory mapping, Companion Modelling, Innovation platforms and other forms of participatory workshops) in concrete examples from R4D projects in 3 African countries (Ethiopia, Ghana and Burkina Faso).

While participation is believed to offer an alternative to top-down decision making, it can, in some cases actually reinforce such decision-making processes and power differences. Understanding the potential of participation requires first an understanding of the political and social realities underlying the context in which it is being implemented.

On the struggle for political recognition in a democratic State with rule of law: the case of tension between the Guasiruma indigenous reservation and the Colombian State

Author: Carlos Andrés Tobar Tovar (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali)  email

Short Abstract

Upon studying the Guasiruma indigenous reservation, it is possible to describe how political violence and community organization processes have generated strategies for social and cultural survival and have counteracted social inequalities and the current dilemmas of political recognition.

Long Abstract

The history of indigenous movements in Colombia is not disengaged from structural violence and social and political invisibility processes that pertain to our society. This paper discusses the social and cultural survival strategies of an indigenous group that is displaced from their ancestral lands by social violence and development that is represented by the construction of a dam in the seventies.

After their exodus, the Guasiruma settled as squatters on a farm in rural Vijes, Valle del Cauca. With the rights granted to ethnic minorities in the Constitution of 1991, which states that one way of providing justice is by giving differential conditions for the development of historically discriminated peoples, the Guasiruma acquired funds to buy the farm they live on as squatters and to establish their reservation there.

The Guasiruma case leads to reflections on how social struggles achieve differential rights that connect with an understanding of justice as an exercise in distribution and a demand for recognition. In this regard, difficulties in the relationship between indigenous peoples and the Colombian state are clear; i.e., complexities in implementing differential rights and efforts to combat poverty and influence the development of communities.

New social contexts profit from the re-examination of anthropological tools: the participatory-action-ethnography approach applied to an Andalusian (Spain) context

Authors: Luis Berraquero-Díaz (Pablo de Olavide University, Seville)  email
Francisco Maya-Rodriguez (Pablo de Olavide University)  email
Javier Escalera Reyes (Pablo de Olavide University)  email

Short Abstract

Analyzing the process and results of a collaborative work carried out by activists and social researchers, we will explore the utility of a participatory-action-ethnography approach for the research on experiences of activism within the context of a multidimensional crisis.

Long Abstract

Analyzing the process and results of a collaborative work carried out in Seville (Andalusia-Spain) by activists and social researchers, we will explore the utility of a Participatory-Action-Ethnography approach for the research on experiences of activism that have emerged or broaden within the context of a multidimensional crisis. The current crisis in Spain is spreading precarity among all areas of life. This situation is encouraging the emergence of new, and reinforcement of already existing forms of social, economic and political action, which distrust late-capitalism "traditional" institutions. Both a pragmatic logic, seeking to cover basic needs, as well as ethical and theoretical principles, influence these activisms. Hence, activisms' discourses and practices are developed though creativity and innovation, but also with a rhizomatic and changing nature, therefore making their analysis complex. Tools that complement the classical methodological approaches in social sciences are needed in order to analyze these activisms. The Participatory-Action-Ethnography approach hereby proposed is meant to combine: 1) the prominence of participation and the procedural nature of participatory action research, 2) the observation and acknowledgement of power relationships in the anthropologists-activists context, and 3) the deep, dense and descriptive nature of ethnography. By doing so, the object of research becomes an active subject, generating narratives and knowledge, while the influence of the research team on this object of research is explicitly recognized. We consider that this blending of methodological approaches facilitates the knowledge co-generation and shared action between academia and civil society, between theoretical approaches and communities of practice.

Activist anthropologist, researcher and / or subject of study?

Author: Jefferson Virgilio (UFSC)  email

Short Abstract

This paper suggests methodological reconfiguration during the execution of ethnographic fieldwork. Advocates greater openness of the researcher to be affected by the field.

Long Abstract

It refers to reflections produced after conducting fieldwork about Portuguese student manifestations that happened between 2012 and 2013. It suggests a revision and reconstruction of methodological preconceptions while performing fieldwork in anthropology. It produces theoretical review regarding research and activism in contemporary anthropology as utters dialogue with that was observed on the fieldwork.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.