Invitation to contribute to Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
A Special Issue is currently being prepared on the topic of “Doing Participatory Action Research (PAR) in a time of COVID and Beyond” to Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems by researchers connected to AN! We encourage scholar-activists or researcher-practitioners from within social networks and scholarship to co-author work that raises important questions about how we might think about and approach our work differently.
If your work engages with PAR and food systems (within the broader realms of interpretation), and you are interested/willing to be listed as potential contributors, we would be interested in hearing from you about your work. Please write to us (Stefanie Lemke, Priscilla Claeys, Nina Moeller and Georgina McAllister) via firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned to this project-publication page for updates.
Doing Participatory Action Research (PAR) in a time of COVID and Beyond
This research theme aims to pool different approaches, experiences and resources for facilitating PAR by practitioners working in a range of country and cultural contexts. For scholar-activists or researcher-practitioners doing research in rural areas, whether using participatory or non-participatory approaches, the spectre of more pandemics together with the mounting climate crisis raise important questions about how we might think about and approach our work differently. That we and our local partners, often located in cities, risk carrying the virus to remote communities only serves to sharpen the mind. This is a challenge for any practitioner intent on authentic dialogue for people-centred and -led, place-based transformative praxis with the most marginalised in society – be they in the UK, Europe or in the Global South.
This research theme therefore seeks to explore creative methodological approaches, and to stimulate critical thinking about the ethics and principles of undertaking PAR in this ‘new normal’, and whether this fundamentally alters the precepts of PAR itself, if not the need and reasons for it. With a view to collectively exploring what this might look like, and what needs to be considered, we would welcome contributions that explore, but are not limited to, the following:
- Experiences of, or proposals for, adapting practical PAR methods and tools to alternative ways of working (such as virtual). What are the associated challenges for inclusion, representation and rigour? How do remote and virtual ways of conducting fieldwork affect the power imbalances that exist in the researcher-research participant relationship – either positively or negatively?
- As practitioners, there is a need to consistently question the role of the international researcher as ‘the expert’ central to these processes. How may we viably step back to create more opportunities for the multiple lenses capable of shedding light on, working across and communicating a pressing range of layered challenges in an integrated way? Does remote PAR offer new opportunities in this respect?
- Ethics and principles of PAR seek to overcome biases and lock-ins associated with undertaking research in the same locations, therefore missing important nuances associated power, vulnerability, discrimination or stigmatisation. This emphasises the need to reach people, engage with and amplify their voices for inclusive and authentic praxis. How might the risk of excluding the more difficult-to-reach who are often more representative of the lived experiences and realities be addressed?
- What are the pressures placed on local partners and co-investigators by shifts to remote working? How can these pressures be addressed or overcome? These may combine city-based NGOs or academics who might also be unable to travel to remote rural communities; or rural organisations that are important local power and knowledge brokers, but without the necessary resources enabled through existing research grants.
- Does remote and virtual PAR necessarily lead to an over-reliance on the same skilled and experienced partners, running the risk of excluding opportunities for engagement with, and strengthening of, wider networks? Does it potentially add burden on the same, over-researched and fatigued communities being called upon to participate in research?
- To what extent can the pandemic foster new opportunities for research partners to build their internal/organisational capacity to do their own research? How can we support the co-production of knowledge, co-facilitation and co-analysis while conducting virtual and remote PAR? Which tools (ie. photovoice or participatory video) might be helpful in these processes?