Participatory Action Research (PAR), an approach to knowledge creation which intentionally includes research, education, and social action, is nearing its 50th anniversary. [i] To help celebrate, our podcasts showcase the contributions of many of the early Participatory Action Research Feminist Trailblazers and Good Troublemakers. We talk with these trailblazers about their work, struggles, and successes bringing feminist values and ways of being to PAR, as well as discuss their insights for the future of a PAR intentionally informed by intersectional feminisms.
PAR has long promoted its liberatory and transformational intentions. Yet, without meaningful and intentional inclusion of intersectional feminisms, what is PAR liberating us from and transforming us into? [ii] Reflecting on the past, the trailblazers help us re-vision a more gender transformative or feminist-informed participatory and action research future.
Our podcasts help document and amplify the diverse origins, histories, and herstories of PAR. The series is not intended to be an “official” history of one version of PAR. We showcase the diverse origins and impulses of PAR. We use PAR as an inclusive, very wide, umbrella term, including many schools of participatory and action research such as participatory research, participatory action research, action research, research circles, cooperative inquiry, community-based participatory research, participatory research EntreMundos, youth participatory action research, feminist participatory action research, Black emancipatory action research, and educational or teacher action research.
Our contention is that intersectional feminisms, shaped by Kimberlé Crenshaw's (1989) theory of intersectionality, is critical for all participatory and action research. Whatever a researcher’s gender identity or sexual orientation, we are all gendered, racialized, and classed/caste beings. Our multiple and intersectional identities inform and shape our lives, work, and relationships.
In addition to questions specific to the work of each Trailblazer, the series will explore overarching questions such as -
- What brought each trailblazer to participatory research – how did they come to this then new, alternative approach to knowledge creation?
- How did these trailblazers’ feminist theories and perspectives express themselves in their early PAR or AR work?
- What support and resistance did they encounter while integrating feminisms in their participatory/action research work and other endeavors?
- Feminist Jill Morawski[iii] maintained that one of the greatest contributions of feminist scientists is to “change the near environment,” i.e. the places and spaces where science is generated. Expanding that to the social sciences, how did their work “changed the near environment” in which they were doing participatory and action research?
- What would they like to say to current participatory and action researchers about the importance of intersectional feminisms to the doing of participatory and action research?
What questions would you like to pose to the PAR trailblazers? Let us know!
[i] Participatory action research or participatory research was simultaneously developing in many places around the world in the 1970s. See Budd L. Hall (2005) In from the Cold? Reflections on participatory research from 1970-2005. Convergence, Vol 38, Issue 1, 5-24.
[ii] Patricia Maguire (1987). Doing participatory research: a feminist approach. Amherst: Center for International Education, University of Massachusetts. Free download https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cie_participatoryresearchpractice/6/
Patricia Maguire (1994) Participatory research from one feminist’s perspective: Moving from exposing androcentrism to embracing possible contributions of feminisms to participatory research theory and practice. In Korrie De Koning (ed) Proceedings of the International Symposium on Participatory research in Health Promotion. Liverpool School of tropical Medicine. Free download https://www.patriciamaguire.net/pdfs/Maguire%20-%20Keynote%20-%20Participatory%20research%20from%20one%20feminist's%20perspective%201994.pdf
[iii] Jill Morawksi (1997). The science behind feminist research methods. Journal of Social Issues, Special Issue. Transforming Psychology: Interpretive and Participatory Research Methods. Issue Editors Mary Brydon-Miller and Deborah L. Tolman. Vol 53, No 4. Pp667-682.