Session: Navigating an Integrated Personal and Scholarly Identity: Experiences of Participatory Action Research Scholars of Color (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

11 Navigating an Integrated Personal and Scholarly Identity: Experiences of Participatory Action Research Scholars of Color

Thursday, January 16, 2020: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Independence BR H, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Race and Ethnicity (R&E)
Catherine Kramer, LMSW, MPA, State University of New York at Albany, Darren Cosgrove, LMSW, State University of New York at Albany, Anindita Bhattacharya, MSW, Columbia University School of Social Work, Carolina Velez-Grau, LCSW, Columbia University and David Camacho, MSW, MSG, Columbia University
Participatory Action Research and Community-Based Participatory Research (collectively PAR) require academic researchers to partner with disenfranchised communities to develop research questions, design approaches to collect data, and analyze that data in service of community transformation. These approaches address inequities by emphasizing emic knowledge and promoting partnerships between communities and researchers.

Despite growing knowledge of PAR methods, little is known about the scholars who undertake this work and what supports or inhibits it. In particular, the experiences of scholars of color are underrepresented.

This roundtable discussion is grounded in findings from a phenomenological study of social work doctoral students and pre-tenured faculty who conduct PAR within the U.S. Findings are based on individual semi-structured interviews as well as group discussion and activities that explored the barriers and facilitators encountered by PAR scholars.

The study's investigators will highlight key findings from participants of color. Reflecting on the findings, panelists will share their experiences conducting PAR and the ways in which they converge or diverge from the findings. Discussion includes:

Racial and Ethnic Identity Motivates PAR Scholars of Color: Scholars pursuing PAR often do so because of their own personal experiences of racial and ethnic marginalization. As researchers, these scholars remain committed to community-based work that centers the emic knowledge of communities of color and that addresses racism and white supremacy through the approaches to inquiry that they use. Panelists will discuss their motivations to pursue their research agendas, particularly the underrepresentation of both scholars and communities of color in research.

Academic Institutions Challenge PAR Scholars of Color: Scholars of color report overt and covert racism and microaggressions within academic institutions, though entry into these institutions can distance them from their communities of origin. Additionally, scholars of color experience institutional skepticism when they pursue unconventional approaches to research like PAR. Consequently, despite personal motivation, some scholars of color and others describe considering whether they can risk further marginalization by pursuing their methodologies of choice. Precipitated by movement through academia, panelists will share how their identities have shifted in ways that result in both experiences of privilege and marginalization.

Productivity Measures and Perceptions of PAR Illegitimacy Curtail Research: Productivity measured by factors such as publication count often disadvantages PAR scholars. Relationship building and the processes central to carrying out PAR are time-intensive. These methodologies are also viewed within academia as less legitimate than conventional forms of research. Panelists will share how productivity and perceptions of illegitimacy challenge their ability to pursue PAR, even if these methodologies are appropriate for answering their questions and centering the voices of communities of color.

This roundtable will: (1) provide findings from the study specific to scholars of color; (2) offer panelist reflections on the convergence and divergence of the findings from their individual experiences; and (3) make recommendations on how to advance a new research ethic that enhances the voices of communities of color, as well as promotes academic growth and recognition among scholars of color.

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