Participatory Action Research

Writing in the wake of Nelson Mandela’s passing, the anti-apartheid wisdom of “nothing about us, without us, is for us,” resonates strongly with the commitment of participatory action research to value knowledge that has been historically marginalized and produced through collaboration and in action. Raising critical questions with regards to the purposes and audiences of research, participatory action research (PAR) takes seriously the critique that “ivory tower” research not only embodies, but reproduces class, raced, gendered, hierarchies (Torre et al., 2012).

The scholarship gathered here reflects the promises and potential of critical participatory action research (CPAR) (or liberatory PAR) as a transformative social justice project that is epistemologically and ontologically rooted in democratic participation, critical inquiry, and action (mrs c-kinpaisby-hill, 2009; www.publicscienceproject.org). More then a method, CPAR is an ethic of inclusion (Cahill, Sultana, & Pain, 2007; Manzo and Brightbill, 2007) that has profound implications for rethinking the politics of representation and challenging what Foucault (1980) identified as the ‘subjectifying social sciences’ (Cameron & Gibson, 2005). Engaging an analysis of how the intimate and global intertwine’ (Pratt & Rosner, 2006), a critical PAR maps out the relationships between social structures and injustice in everyday life experiences (Spataro, 2012). … Many of the readings cited here have been drawn from the critical geography, critical pedagogy, and critical psychology literatures.

To read more on this topic and see the recommended reading list for this topic by Caitlin Cahill, click here.

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