In this episode Deborah Barndt and Margarita Antonio discuss their collaboration on a participatory arts-based research project called VIVA! in Nicaragua the early days of URACCAN - the University of the Autonomous Region of Nicaragua Caribbean Coast. They talk about how through that project and their collaborative relationship they brought together feminisms, participatory art-based research and indigenous cosmologies.
Margarita is a Miskitu woman from the Nicaragua Caribbean Coast. An Indigenous and feminist activist, she works with international Indigenous women promoting both their collective and individual rights, and their voice in decision-making forums. Margarita has a long career in media and journalism including community TV and in cultural revitalization.
On Deborah Barndt’s website www.deborahbarndt.com, she describes herself as la politica, la poeta, la pensadora - the activist, the artist and the academic. She is Professor of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto. In the 1970s Deb was one of the early coordinators of the Toronto Participatory Research Group which was one of the five original PAR networks, or nodes, that was sponsored in the 1970s by the International Council of Adult Education. The sponsorship of these five nodes really facilitated participatory researchers’ collaboration across and within the Global South and North.
Deborah Barndt & Margarita Antonio
Participatory Arts-Based Research, Indigenous Cosmologies, & Feminisms in Nicaragua with host Patricia Maguire
You're listening to Participatory Action Research: Feminist Trailblazers and Good Troublemakers.
I'm Patricia Maguire. I'm a longtime advocate of feminist, informed participatory research. This podcast is dedicated to amplifying the contributions of early feminists and women trailblazers to participatory and action research. We discussed their work, their struggles, and their successes, bringing feminist values, and ways of being to participatory research. Together with you, our listeners and the international community of participatory researchers, we hope to revision – Re- vision - a participatory and action research that's deeply informed by intersectional feminisms.
So today it's my pleasure to welcome two guests, Deborah Barndt and Margarita Antonio.
They will be discussing their collaboration on participatory arts-based research project called VIVA! in Nicaragua the early days of URACCAN - the University of the Autonomous Region of Nicaragua Caribbean Coast. And we'll talk about how through that project and their collaborative relationship they brought together feminisms, participatory art-based research and indigenous cosmologies.
I’d like to welcome each of you.
Deb – it’s great to be here with my friend Margarita
Patricia Maguire - Let me introduction each of you for our listeners and I'm going to start with Margarita Antonio. Margarita is a Miskitu woman from the Nicaragua Caribbean Coast. An Indigenous and feminist activist, she works with international Indigenous women promoting both their collective and individual rights, and their voice in decision-making forums.
Margarita has a long career in media and journalism including community TV and in cultural revitalization.
She was a coordinator of Mujeres Creativas on the Nicaragua Caribbean Coast. Mujeres. Creativas is a grassroots collective organization of Miskitu Indigenous women who promote cultural revitalization using participatory arts-based approaches. She's been the project coordinator of the Caribbean Central American Research Council, which creates spaces for dialogue and exchange and learning between Indigenous, Afrodescendants, and traditional organizations. And she's the coordinator at the International Indigenous Women's Forum. So, welcome to Margarita.
And Deb - On Deborah Barndt’s website www.deborahbarndt.com, she describes herself as la politica, la poeta, la pensadora - the activist, the artist and the academic. She is Professor of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto. Her career in participatory research spans 50 years. Yes, folks, 50 years. That's why we call this trailblazers.
In the 1970s Deb was one of the early coordinators of the Toronto Participatory Research Group, organized by Bud Hall, dian marino. Ted Jackson and Linda Yanz among others. The Toronto Participatory Research Group was one of the five original PAR networks, or nodes, that was sponsored in the 1970s by the International Council of Adult Education. And I think their sponsorship of these five nodes really facilitated participatory researchers’ collaboration across and within the Global South and North. And I think that actually helped put PAR on the map as an approach to knowledge creation.
Deb, founded the Community Arts Practice Group at York University and engaged in, at least three transnational, arts-based participatory research projects: Tomasita, VIVA! which we'll talk quite a bit about today, and Earth to Tables Legacies.
That's just a little sliver of the magnificent contributions of our two guests today.
Let's start with what brought the two of you together I think in the 1980s in Nicaragua working on participatory action research, the arts-based project.
Deborah Barndt: Nicaragua.
Margarita Antonio: Nicaragua
Deb But do you remember, I mean, when did we first meet actually?
It was the launch in this VIVA project in participatory community research and she thought that URACCAN, the university, would be a good place, a good ally for this effort and covering Nicaragua Caribbean coast. So she reached out to URACCAN and I don't know who told her, you know, maybe if you talk to Margarita she does something like what you're asking about. So I had a tiny little office, a really tiny box in the liaison office in Managua. And she came asking for me and I said, yes, come and she started talking and she was all arms and eyes and feet and I fell in love.
Yes, we were exploring how to tell our stories with the cameras and in having a different narrative of our communities. Our autonomy process at a time. And we thought that this could be a good match for the North-South Alliance for research that Deborah was leading at the time with the VIVA Project.
And you were working as a journalist as well, right? Or were you then coordinating the communications part of URACCAN, the new university?
Margarita Antonio: Yes Well, we created what was then identified as the Intercultural Communication Institute within the university. So we did radio. We did a paper. We did a monthly publish and we did some things online. Train journalists. So I tend to coordinate this program within the university. And yes, the TV channel was part of it.
So before URACCAN, if you live in my region and you want to do university, you need to move to Managua. When you move to Managua at 17 and you do five years, you tend to stay in Managua and elsewhere without coming back to the region. So university also stands for opportunity of keeping professionals, keeping trained personnel for the coast development. So, when university began, we had these careers - sociology, engineer, Agra Forestry.
And we thought that the same way we need professionals for these fields, we need communication practitioners that can have a different approach of communication. Promote a different way of telling our stories and sharing our narrative. And that is where I fit in. I find a space in university and that is how we connect with Deborah.
In a sense, Freire and the whole popular education movement informed my experience in the 70s, in Peru, with indigenous women migrants who were learning to read and write through his method, and then how that brought me to Nicaragua in the early 80s, during the years of the Sandinista Revolution to work with literacy teachers and creating their own materials with their own stories in their own images. And that, I guess also introduced me to the reality of the Atlantic coast, the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, which had been really in many ways, neglected historically, and represented a completely different reality.
Margarita can describe that better than I can. But it was certainly in my consciousness when, in the early 2000s, we decided we would like to have an exchange that was built on some of these relationships that were in fact forged in the early 80s through the revolutionary process that brought a lot of internationalists, popular educators - even though they may not have called themselves that - from the Central American countries to form a network called El Portal.
So, when we decided to try this exchange between popular educators in Canada, the US, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama to have everyone involved in looking in their own context at how participatory action research might be used to tell the stories of the way that community arts and the arts were tapping the spirits and minds and inspiring that the collective or actions of communities in those countries.
I heard about Margarita. I went knocking on her door in Managua and I had heard, you know, that she was working as a journalist in the Atlantic coast, and we clearly wanted to connect with that part of the Nicaraguan reality.
But I should also mention that I had a relationship with URACCAN - CIDA (which is the Canadian International Development Agency, the AID of Canada). CIDA funded a project, a five-year project that was a collaboration between York University and URACCAN, for us to provide to provide a space for them, the new teachers in this new university to get master's degrees. So there were two ways this could happen. One was that the new teachers from the coast, could come to Toronto. The other way was for some of us from York University to go to the coast and offer courses there. So I was asked to teach a course in Popular Education for Social Change and I insisted that I have a partner from the region and we invited Raul Lei you may have heard of Pat, but it's very important in this whole network of the Central American popular education centers. He was with CIASPA in Panama.
I also remember when I came to Bilwi with you, and we met with some of the teachers, I asked people to identify themselves because you had Creole; you had Miskito, maybe you had Rama and Garifuna different indigenous peoples.
But a part of the autonomy law was that you could self-identify, right? People could identify themselves. So I remember, I was so surprised so many people identified as Miskitu, right. And even though they might have maybe had Creole backgrounds or whatever. So, there was a real, I remember a real kind of mix, you can correct me. But I remember even in the teaching that there was a real effort to bring languages to try to change the colonial languages, both Spanish and English. Although that was always a challenge. But definitely, gender was a part of this and that kind of indigenous languages as a part of the autonomy movement.
It is strange how identity, the acknowledgment of our own being, individual and collective being, is embedded in the things and the processes we engage with. I come from the Indigenous movement - claiming our right to education in our language, our right to territory. And that claim and that struggle met with the revolution in the 80s. So when we lost election in 1990 and I was just trying to cope with achieving some type of professional training as journalists.
The university start - a university of our own with our proposal, trying to train the professionals need for building autonomy on the Caribbean coast. So, I engage with this process. It was like an entire new process, the learning, constructing. And at that time, I would argue that the same way we need professionals for developing autonomy, we need communication practitioners to tell our stories, to talk on our behalf because our stories were being told by others. We had this capacity to learn to express ourselves and in this experience of being a community TV, the first community TV that was actually a product of close collaboration with our sister city in Burlington Vermont.
We were there from universities building community radio, training journalists, and doing this new TV channel when Deborah came to talk to us about community art. It was just natural to say, we are doing art and it is from the community. It is what we know and sharing what we are for our peers, but for others. Because even like in the Caribbean coast, we have this diversity of identities: Miskitu, mañana's, Creole, Mestisos. People think that because you live together, you know about each other and it's not true. We needed to learn among ourselves but at the same time, teach to the rest of the country and out of the country, what our reality was. So community art approach was a way of us identifying what art is in the word we talk. What art are in the images we display; what type of art are in the craft we learn to do and we reproduce. So there is where we met.
I love the way that you talk about why you connected with the notion of community arts. But I think when you put community next to the word art, it actually challenges all the European notions of art. And I feel that part of what our project and our collaboration brought was also opening up all of the other ways of knowing and ways of expressing ourselves that I think have been really limited in the Western context. And even in the North American context by these binaries, body and mind, spirit - matter. Kind of as though, they're separated even male - female. We're having challenged now thank goodness the gender binary is being challenged too. And really our popular education movement here was very informed by the kind of multi-sensory and creative way in which popular educators in Latin America where approaching it. And the experience of working with you, Margarita, and with the folks in Chiapas and with the Gunai in Panama, was also encounter the rich, cosmovision of different indigenous. Communities that have a much deeper understanding.
Like, I understand the word art doesn't even exist in most indigenous languages because they're so integral to daily life and ceremony and a connection to the land, each other and the notion of being in relation to all living things, all elements in the world that keep us, that sustain us.
I feel like that's been for me, the profound learning that I'm continuing to have from collaborative processes with indigenous friends here as well. So I think that notion really community arts was a way that we kind of tried to talk about it. But really, in the process of the exchange, we had to look at the need to even decolonize the way we talk about art and the way we talk about feminism, and the way we talk about research, even what participation means.
Let's explore that notion of decolonization because in the materials that I've been reading by both of you about the VIVA! Project, you said that one of your struggles, efforts was to decolonize the VIVA! Project because the funding came from the Global North. Perhaps you could talk about some of the things that you did - successes as well as perhaps things that weren't so successful - in which you try to in a sense decolonize the VIVA! Project
I think reflecting on Deb’s words , this strategy in which you had a diversity of expression coming together. Because art was not about one type of practice, you know, it was not only theater; it was not only storytelling; it was not only murals; you had a mixture of different form of expression coming together.
All of us while coming from one corner sometime, we were exposed to the different practices. But at the same time, we had this dialogue that we can still frame as the North South, you know, and organizations and collectivities from Toronto, from the US, and from the Global South in the continent, in getting the Americas from different spaces. So this dialogue and a common table where there was not more because you are in the north, or less because you're in the South, that frame for our exchange was a practice, a powerful practice that we take with us. And we bring it to our community because this that you do at the continental level, you could also embed in your region, in your municipality, even in your neighborhood. Understanding the diversity, understanding that we all bring something to the table and that we all can take something from the table. That approach was very powerful, the way VIVA was compiled and that we were exposed to that collectivity of experience.
Yes, I think that probably one of the best uses of those Northern funds was to have gatherings in the communities. We met first in the jungle of Panama, and that was organized by our Panamanian partners. So we were in the sites, in the territories. We were experiencing; we were listening to the monkeys and the parrots and but also sharing a lot of the of the local practices. And so having that immersion in different sites, we had our final meeting was in Chiapas and it was, you know, at Uniterra, which is a Zapatista related University of the Land. And there we were exposed to a completely different way of even thinking about how you organize a university which is totally grounded in the land and in the daily practices. I mean, where students, were growing their own food, making their own tortillas.
It was those kinds of meeting places and opportunities to During those contexts that I think also pushed us, I would say toward for me, in any case trying to really think about, “How do I decolonize; how do we decolonize our practice?” And one of the ways I was challenged, I remember in that last meeting was why didn't we have any indigenous participants from Canada? And in fact, all my work since then has been in a sense of response to that question, because the current project of Earth to Tables Legacies is a settler- indigenous dialogue using food as an entry point. Our partners, the Haudenosaunee here in Canada, who are also in upstate New York, have been our teachers also about trying to understand even the history of the US and Canada who were shaped by the ideas of governance that the Haudenosaunee had; even our notions of democracy, most people don't know that. And that even the women's movement, the suffragette movement was totally shaped by the fact that women living in upstate New York, who started that movement, knew Haudenosaunee women and could see that gender relations was understood in another way that they had not experienced, or even been able to imagine. So, I think that the questions that came out of our exchange, maybe 10 years ago, 15 years ago, really have pushed at me, at least, to look more in my own backyard and to try to have that conversation in a way that would make a difference in our context. So, I'm grateful for that.
Patricia Maguire - I think that builds on what Margarita was saying, that you take these participatory approaches and ethos and you not only look internationally - global North and Global South, but it helps you sort of dig where you stand in your own backyard and take those principles and apply them to your own organizations, your own relationships, if you will across organizations
Let's look a little bit about how you brought your feminist values to participatory arts-based work. I want to acknowledge that for myself, I have long used the term feminisms with an S because I want to acknowledge that there's not one homogeneous feminist practice – hence the movement towards a more intersectional feminisms. But if each of you could talk some about how you brought your own particular versions of feminisms, when we talked about indigenous cosmology, but how you brought your own versions of feminisms to the participatory research and participatory arts-based work.
So while the Chiapas meeting was the last meeting for what we named the VIVA! Project, I want to look at this process as in what the VIVA! received from our previous experiences and what continue like the legacy and what you're doing now Deb. In 1992 with the famous 500 years campaign in a large community radio meeting, I was directly approached with a question, “Are you feminist?” That's 20, 30 years ago. And I remember that I responded “No.” And I mentioned it because today I would answer, “Absolutely yes, now, I am.” And I learned this by understanding the differences, by understanding that we have a proposal. We have a political statement when we acknowledge ourselves as feminists - understanding the way you say that there’s not one feminism. There are multiple ways of feminisms because that concept of “one feminism” is rejected by many of my sisters who don't feel that they fit in that one concept.
So, because doing radio and journalism and things that had to do with news writing, interviewing people, I never got that art would be part of my life and my living and my experience. But, after entering the VIVA! project, I quickly learned how we were excluded. Talking about the Miskitu women in the processes we attend. And because that approach later working in a huge cultural revitalization process in my region, we were able to get together with this group of Mujeres Creativas. That is in Spanish, but we have a Miskitu name. It is LaptaYula. LaptaYula is like watchdog of the light, watch dog of the details. We identify ourselves as a watchdog of our traditions, of our knowledge. And the way we could do it was documenting it; learning to write our stories; listen to our elders. Write it down, talk with them. Bring it to the table. Share it with the kids. And we share it by using all these techniques in different art practices that we can name. And we did theater. We still do, I don't perform, but we perform and one of the member of the team that is now a retired teacher, her words resonate with me. I never thought I would be able to perform on a stage and I always wanted to do this. And she's a poet now, and she performed in the group because the group is very active. It is still active until today.
And we have this identity of indigenous women. We are open to collaborate, and we actually collaborate with non-indigenous. And we work for us, but also for the new generations and trying to leverage, to advocate with our partners. It’s inclusive with the males in the community, and with the elders. So this way of practicing feminism in our art, researching our knowledge, I think that we have this thinking that we are not researchers. We don't publish. We don't do this big-time academic documents. but when we get assisted and we know how to write, we do it. So some of our colleagues have been writing poetry because we are attend some workshop on poetry and some of our papers are there online and we continue to produce. So I look at this as a live process. and it's not about my personal lifetime, or what I learned from my grandmother, who is not here anymore, it's about our grandkids and the new kids that are growing with some of this are much of it depending on the way we engage, and they engage with us.
Deb, talk about how you weave in and use your beliefs about feminisms to inform your participatory research and your participatory arts- based research. How does how do you weave that in?
I was just reflecting over the decades, I think there was a period when I didn't want to be associated with feminists or only looking at women, right? I think I was always interested in what we now call intersectional feminism, and probably, I want to also say around this, another binary, we should challenge is global North and global South because you know, there's a global South in the global North if we're talking about these power dynamics. I've been so shaped by my experiences. I'm thinking first of all in Peru in the 70s with women indigenous migrants from the mountains who came to Lima and were in the literacy classes. And then coming back to Canada and teaching English as a second language to immigrant women who are working in factories. You know in many ways I've been really shaped by those experiences of the women in this context. I think even in the early years of our Participatory Research Group in Toronto, that's when we were doing that work. You know, that’s when we were doing that work. we're in a way researching their jobs through their sharing their stories, but then, we'd write songs about that and we would create theater around that and we would make video and we would make photo stories and cartoon stories.
And that was when I was a part of that group which you described earlier Patricia which is, you know, wasn't also an international network. And in some ways it was an old Boys club. When you and I met in December of last year to celebrate with others, the 40th anniversary of the Participatory Research Network I guess in India. We were with our friends there on the panel there were eight - Six men, and you and I. These are men that I love, but I felt like it's still enough boys club in certain ways. You know? There’s certainly been a part of the process of learning and questioning but I find it's an incredible challenge and we know now with everything that's happening in the US with the kind of reversals around Roe vs. Wade and with the #MeToo Movement. I think it's the moment also is so challenging for feminists and I think partly because there's been this kind of movement that has really been black women, indigenous women with such strength leading an intersectional movement that really are a force to be reckoned with.
So no, I'm constantly changing my notions of what is feminism, but for me, it's both about centering the lives and the stories of women, which Margaritas spoke to, as well as thinking about the ways in which, and I'm going to say, I don't want to use women in a universal sense, but I've been very interested in as I've learned more from our Haudenosaunee partners. And as they think about the notion of all our relations and think relationally and think in terms of process and their language itself is verb basem so it's not about objects, it's about a processes. I think that that is something in a way that converges with some early feminist thinking that was always relational, was about kind of a relational way of working.
Part of my motivation for this podcast series, of course, is to amplify the contributions of feminist and women to PAR, and I'm wondering if we sort of scope out a little bit to the sort of loose participation action research networks groups around the world. What do you think we need from cis men right now as allies. What do we need from them? I've seen women feminists in a sense in PAR carry the burden if you will of raising issues of gender justice. There's been I think a broader group of people sharing and raising indigenous issues and racial issues, but what do we need right now from people across the participatory research world to be allies around gender justice issues in PAR?
I think one of the efforts we are promoting now from the organization where I am working that has to do with getting us getting women on board to do intercultural research - acknowledging that we all have knowledge and that if we have the tools, the basic tools to document that knowledge for preservation, for sharing with others, for contributing to a wider and wider in understanding, this could create a whole difference. We have been working on this and we are happy to learn how young indigenous women and not too young indigenous women once they get familiar and once they see that this is possible, how they engage with talking, writing, recording, documenting. This could be useful. And looking at it from indigenous women from our experience as indigenous women, we constantly find that our partners will easily say, “We don't have that gender issue in among indigenous people. That is not for our communities.”
We find this argument constantly and we are able to say that it is not true. We have strongly patriarchal practices, we have forms of violence in the name of tradition. We also at the other hand have strong matriarchal experiences. So how we learn to better all and get our community to really understand and learn that by us being there present, it doesn't mean that we have gender justice, that it's not enough by having indigenous women sitting at the table or sitting in the hall or being attended. We need to have different approach; we need to have different practice, and that our strategies need to be respectful of the need indigenous women. And this is what we could highlight, and we could show and make evident when we research from a work capacity and with our knowledge.
If you want me to respond to the question around the cis man, I was thinking of the two closest to me: my son and my partner. I was just remembering because, you know, we have hopes that the younger generations maybe have moved beyond, that it's not as same issue as our generation. So I have both, I have our generation with my partner and my son. I remember when he was 14 and this would have been really almost 20 years ago now, more than 20 years ago. He got very active in a group and they were very fabulous activists women in this group, and they were, it was an anti-war group and they were doing all kinds of radical actions. And they were being challenged, you know, the guys are being challenged by these young women, And he came home one day and he said: “Yeah, yeah, like we I realized that we guys, we really have to like not dominate the conversation all the time. Not be the only ones talking” he said, “but it's so hard. So hard.” I thought, yep, get used to it. It's hard and I think on the other hand, that's I mean, that's maybe seems trivial. But I think that also many men are realizing what they've lost, what they've missed because of their socialization and you know they really want to be able to tap into their more kind of feminine sides and the capacity to express themselves in other ways and to be vulnerable.
So yeah, I think, the notions of allies and accomplices are really important and we all have to learn how to do that in different ways.
Now each of you have been involved in this work trying to work in participatory ways, trying to work in ways respectful of the communities that you're in, being respectful of indigenous cosmologies and of feminisms, and you've been doing this work for a long time. What would you say to contemporary participatory action researchers of why this still matters? Why is this work – here you are 50 - 40, 50 years later, still doing this work. Why is it still important?
I think that it matters now more than before because they were so much stereotype created and established, imposed upon us, because researchers or academic establishment that ignored other voices and other knowledges. And while we are deconstructing that way that was established, some of it still prevails and many of our training and teaching is still based on such establishment that have proved to be wrong.
So, if we continue to say that every human being matters, every human being is a universe. and from the perspective of indigenous people, that we look at ourselves as collectivity - every collectivity matters regardless of the size, regardless of the language, the way they believe, the way they practice. There is an immense world of knowledge to be learned, to be told, and it's not only about practicing PAR, it's also about getting communities engaged in the practice, to learn that we can all contribute to this collective construction. So I think it matters, it still matters and it matter more now than before.
I think intergenerational conversations are also really, really critical. I'm a part of a group now called Seniors for Climate Action Now, and it's focusing on mainly, people are age and what we might be doing in response to the climate crisis. But I'm concerned that it's only focusing on talking to each other. I sort of feel like we in our culture have lost this notion of intergenerational relations. And that what we really need is the energies that each bring. And it's another way that there's a kind of a schism. So, yeah, I guess that's what I'm feeling why it matters now.
I mean in the university, I'm sure you saw this Patricia and you've seen it Margarita. I mean, I became less and less able to tolerate the way in which our university was run as a business. And the way in which knowledge became something that you buy. And I mean, participatory action research is still a really radical notion, even though the research bodies we fought them to acknowledge this in our funding, you know, and to fund us for these projects. So we've gotten little cracks and little bits of money for these kinds of things that are still very much on the edge, you know? Still not, I mean, in many ways, what we were trying to do in the ‘70s was legitimize another way of thinking about research that acknowledge all the power dynamics. And I guess in certain ways, yeah, they're now courses on it. But the dominant practice in the context within which we're working, it’s still is, it's totally fringe and kind of a notion that it's really hard for people to understand and you add art to that and it's even more strange.
You know, you reminded me Patricia that one of the things that I tried to do on that panel that we were on together in December, was to actually name the women that weren't named. I'd like to name them now, you know, like Helen Lewis, dian marino, Jane Sapp, Malena de Montes, Sue Thrasher, Amy Horton. I just want to name three more people - Valerie Miller, Mariela Arce and Lisa Van Clawson.
I just think we really need to keep naming all of those women, that haven’t been recognized. And then now as you’re emphasizing Margarita, the women you are working with that they value their own stories.; That they feel like their stories are worth telling and sharing in multiple forms.
In part that’s what I’m hoping to do with this series, it’s slow going, but I’m hoping to amplify the contributions of the early feminists and early women trailblazers in this field so their stories and multiple stories, there are so many of them, don’t get lost as the re-writing of PAR, participatory action research, is happening now.
Let me start to bring this to a close. Is there anything else that you sort of came ready to talk about today that I didn't ask about in terms of participatory action research and feminisms, and anything else that you want to want to say to wrap it up.
Maybe just say that we sometimes at least myself took for granted that by being a woman was enough and we learn quickly that that is not enough. This is also a contradiction, sometimes Deborah. We need to keep moving that torch to the new generations and it's good to see how young girls, teenagers, take for granted that they have a voice, and a name, and an identity of their own, but to keep moving the barriers and creating more opportunities for those new generations that we expect not to have the burden our elders have and an immense majority currently still face.
Well, thank you to both of you. I want to thank Margarita and Deborah for sharing some of your life's work with us. I know it's just a small slice of your many years of activism.
And I want to thank our listeners for being with us. You can help us by sending out this link to your colleagues and networks. For our listeners, will you give us a shout out on your social media. A transcript of today's podcast, the citations of our guest work and additional information about them will be posted on our companion website, www.parfemtrailblazers.net
If you have any comments or questions, there's a comment section on that website. So, that's it for this episode of Participatory Action Research - Feminist Trailblazers and Good Troublemakers. Now, go make some good trouble of your own. Thank you all.
“Perhaps my introduction to participatory researchtook place at our dining room table in Ohio in the 1950s when my parents would hold a weekly Family Council meeting, so we could talk about problems arising and make decisions together about what we wanted to do. Fast forward to the 1970s when I do doctoral research on Paulo Freire’s ideas and praxis of popular education in Peru, and return to Toronto, Canada, to join the Participatory Research Group of the International Council for Adult Education. Working in Nicaragua during the early years of the Sandinista Revolution deepened my understanding of how participatory research and popular education were integral to building social movements and creating a new society. In the late 1980s, working with other Toronto activists in The Moment project, we brought the arts (music, theatre, visuals) into our processes of “naming the moment” (based on Gramsci’s notion of conjunctural analysis) and building coalitions to fight free trade, defend Indigenous rights, challenge police racism.
From 1993 on, I brought participatory research, popular education, and community arts into the university where I taught in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto. I continue to struggle to integrate my artist, activist and academic selves. All of my research projects have been participatory and arts-based – whether tracing the journey of a corporate tomato from Mexico to Canada through the eyes of women workers (Tomasita Project) or coordinating the participatory research of 4 NGOs and 4 universities on the use of the arts in social movements (VIVA! Project). Most recently, I’ve been coordinating the Earth to Tables Legacies Project, an intergenerational and intercultural exchange of Indigenous and settler activists for food justice and food sovereignty from Mexico and Canada. This art-based collaborative research resulted in a multimedia educational website earthtotables.org and a forthcoming book (Rowman & Littlefield). It has offered my most humbling and profound learning in dialogue with Haudenosaunee partners in Canada, and Mayan and P’urépecha partners in Mexico, as we deconstruct and attempt to transform the colonial institutions, practices, and ways of knowing – and relearn how to respect and connect with “all our relations” and the sacred Mother Earth in the face of the climate crisis. I’m finding that the relational and process-oriented ways of thinking/being/acting in Indigenous cosmologies often converge with and enrich the efforts of feminist participatory action researchers."
Barndt, Deborah (1980). Education and social change: A photographic study of Peru. Whitby: Kendall-Hunt.
Barndt, Deborah, Feme Cristall and dian marino (1982). Getting there: Producing Photo-stories with immigrant women. Toronto: Between the Lines.
Barndt, Deborah (1991). To change this house: Popular education under the Sandinistas. Toronto: Between the Lines and the Jesuit Centre and the Doris Marshall Institute for Education and Action. Spanish edition 1995.
Barndt, Deborah (Ed.). (1999). Women working the NAFTA food chain: Women, food, and globalization. Toronto: Sumach Press.
Barndt, Deborah (2001). On the move for food: Three women behind the tomato's journey. Women's Studies Quarterly 29, no.1-2, pp. 131-143.
Barndt, Deborah (2004). By whom and for whom? Intersections of participatory research and community arts. In A. Cole, L. Neilsen, J.G. Knowles, T. Luciani (Eds.). Provoked by art: Theorizing arts-informed Inquiry. Toronto, OISA: Backalong Books and Centre for Arts-Informed Research.
Barndt, Deborah (Ed.) (2006). Wild fire: Art as activism. Toronto, Ontario: Sumach Press.
Barndt, Deborah and Christine McKenzie (2006). Whose Nicaragua? Popular communications across eras, regions, and generations. pp. 46-57. In Deborah Barndt. Wild Fire: Art as Activism. Toronto: Sumach Press 46-57.
Barndt, Deborah (2008). Touching minds AND hearts: Community arts as collaborative research. pp. 351-362. In J. Gary Knowles and Ardra L. Cole (Eds.) Handbook of the arts in qualitative research; Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Barndt, Deborah (2008). Tangled routes: Women, work, and globalization on the tomato trail. Rowman & Littlefield.
Barndt, Deborah and VIVA! Project Partners (2010). VIVA! El Arte Comunitario y La Educación Popular en las Americas. Bluefields, Nicaragua: URACCAN.
Barndt, Deborah and Laura Reinsborough (2010). Decolonizing art, education and research in the VIVA! Project. In L. Davis (Ed.) Alliances: Re/Envisioning relationships between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Peoples. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Barndt, Deborah and VIVA! Project Partners (2011). VIVA! Community arts and popular
education in the Americas. Albany, NY: SUNY Press and Between the Lines.
Barndt, Deborah (2012) Remapping the Americas: A transnational engagement with creative tensions of community arts. pp 166-191. In Amanda Lock Swarr and Richa Nagar (Eds). Critical transnational feminist praxis. SUNY Press.
Barndt, Deborah (2014). Shooting back: Photo voice in action research. In David Coghlan and Mary Brydon-Miller (Eds.). Encyclopedia of Action Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Barndt, Deborah, Lauren Baker, Alex Gelis, and Legacies Collaborators. (Forthcoming – 2023)
Earth to tables legacies: Multimedia food conversations across generations and Cultures. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Accompanying website: www.earthtotables.org
Margarita Antonio is a Miskitu Indigenous rights activist from the Nicaragua Caribbean Autonomous Region. A feminist, she works with international Indigenous women promoting their collective and individual rights and their voice in decision-making forums addressing the critical social, economic, and environmental justice issues of our times. Margarita has a long career in journalism and media, including community TV, and in cultural revitalization. Margarita was the first Miskitu female journalist.
She is founder of the Institute for Intercultural Communication of URACCAN University. She helped develop BilwiVision, a youth-run community television program. Margarita was a coordinator of Mujeres Creativas on the Nicaragua Caribbean Coast. Mujeres Creativas is a grassroots collective of Miskitu Indigenous Women who promote cultural revitalization using participatory arts-based approaches. Margarita has been the Project Coordinator of the Caribbean Central America Research Council, which creates spaces for dialogue, exchange and mutual learning between Indigenous, Afrodescendants and Traditional organizations. Currently Margarita Antonio is the Ayni Fund Programs Coordinator at the International Indigenous Women Forum, which promotes the individual and collective rights of Indigenous Women.
Antonio, Margarita. (2008). ¿De quiénes y para quiénes son las tierras costeñas? Who do the coast lands belong to and who will get them? Envio: Información sobre Nicaragua y Centroamérica. Diciembre, No 321/329 .
https://mujerescreativas.wordpress.com/ - grassroots collective of Miskitu Indigenous Women promoting cultural revitalization by learning rituals and traditions from their elders and sharing this knowledge using participatory arts-based approaches.
Davitian, Lauren-Glenn (2019) Host - Report from Bilwi: An interview with Margarita Antonio