robertogreco + knowledgecreation   2

Radical community research | The McGill Daily ["Reflections on alternative research through the lens of healthcare"]
"Through CURE, students can also undertake projects for academic credit. I completed my project as the focus of an independent study course through McGill’s department of Geography. Researching immigrant access to care alongside a community organization through an academic course, I encountered one question over and over: who holds the power to produce knowledge in our society? Historically, minority groups have been the ‘subjects’ on whom research is ‘done’ and from whom knowledge is extracted. When social inequality becomes the project of academics, these minority groups rarely see themselves reflected in academic literature as the makers of knowledge. Many academic fields are moving toward inclusion of lived experiences in their literature, but we have yet to reach a point where the authors of these accounts are primarily the people who live them. Meanwhile, ethics committees carefully detail guidelines for confidentiality and data storage. Consider that these standards are set out by the institution sponsoring the research. Whom are these guidelines meant to protect?"

"From the moment I began working on this project in earnest, my intention was to speak with, not for, immigrants with precarious status. In proceeding one by one through clinics in Parc-Extension to assemble information about health services, I learned about many barriers immigrants face in accessing these services. Unfortunately, however, I was never able to work closely with the immigrants affected by barriers to healthcare access or consult individuals about their lived experiences. My portrayal of the situation is a poorer one because of it, one that does not explore or amplify the the agency, self-determination, or resilience of immigrants confronting precarious status and successfully overcoming barriers to the healthcare system. CURE was crucial in guiding me to navigate these issues transparently and ensuring that ultimately, my project worked toward establishing an important resource in the Parc-Extension community. The most valuable part of radical social justice research for me was the ongoing conversation with my academic supervisor and my collaborators at CURE and SAB surrounding these considerations. Alternative research partnerships, where a commitment to the community group exists from the start, offer a model for researcher accountability to the groups they are serving, and demand shared production of knowledge. Moving forward, an important part of maintaining equitable grassroots research partnerships in this way will be to ensure that consideration of anti-oppressive principles, questions of voices consulted, and emphasis on participatory process don’t simply become items to check off to meet an arbitrary requirement of self-reflexiveness."

"Institutional research projects have historically separated the producers of knowledge from its subjects, and universities have rarely had constructive and positive relations with neighbouring communities. Radical research alternatives in Montreal are transferring power from institutions to people. In the process, they establish reciprocal, mutually beneficial community-institution relationships that bridge students with meaningful work. These projects are occupying the spaces between the university and the neighbourhood to turn the traditional research paradigm on its head."

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february 2015 by robertogreco

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