Building Our Collective Strength Through Unequal Partnerships: Reflections On Participatory Action Research From Multiple Standpoints
In this presentation, we illustrate the praxis of decolonizing, feminist and anti-oppression research methodologies from the perspective of a group of women who worked together on a university-based participatory action research project including: the principal investigator, graduate research assistants, and an MSW practicum student. We illustrate our varied standpoints while engaging in participatory action research with the Migrant Mothers Project, which explores how Latina women’s migration to Canada has been shaped by violence and how women with precarious migratory status in Canada practice substantive citizenship for themselves and their children. This presentation highlights the perspectives of graduate students who are integral to the daily operations of university-based research, but are often rendered invisible or neutral in analyses of power in the production of research knowledge. Even when researchers—typically referring to the principal investigator and co-investigator—employ feminist and anti-oppression research methodologies, there has been little attention to the process of developing feminist consciousness within a research team that includes people who are multiply-positioned within the University and broader community.
This presentation includes a brief description of the Migrant Mothers Project, the research goals, activities and approach to participatory action research. We then present a series of personal narratives from several research staff who took part in different stages of the project, to illustrate in what ways our own standpoints informed our approach to feminist and anti-oppression research. Through reflexive analysis of different stages of our research and community organizing, we explore how we pursued feminist, anti-oppression, and emancipatory principles through our various roles. We also discuss ways in which we navigated interlocking oppressions within the University, across not-for-profit institutions, and in the midst of hostile immigration policies that shaped our research activities and our relations with one another.
 Our research team involved a range of women identified individuals with varied gender identities, sexual orientation and gender expressions.