The purpose of this roundtable is to examine ABR practice and research methodologies that promote liberation for social work scholars, research participants, and the broader community. Oxford Languages (2011) defines liberation as the act of freeing someone from imprisonment. As social work scholars, we pursue liberation with individuals, families and communities from the bio-psycho-social prisons constraining their wholeness or wellness. Five social work scholars from different institutions at varying career levels will share their encounters with ABR as a tool for liberation. We will engage attendees in discussion about their experiences and questions around ABR and liberation. The roundtable objectives are to: 1) Share exemplars of ABR as liberatory 2) Examine barriers and facilitators to using ABR 3) Identify and experience strategies for incorporating ABR into practice or research.
In our work as ABR scholars, we find that ABR engages aspects of the research process that contrast with traditional forms of inquiry. ABR is accessible; it invites participation of diverse abilities, backgrounds, and previous academic/artistic experiences (Bertling, 2020). ABR is emotive, embodied, and transcends literacy barriers (Cosgrove, et al., 2020; Gerstenblatt, 2013), stimulating healing and expressive parts of the brain (Kaimal, et al., 2017) beyond the social conditioning of the prefrontal cortex. ABR critiques power; the ABR process diminishes the power difference between the researcher/participants, challenges what is considered truth, and accounts for the beneficiaries of research (Cahill, et al., 2019). ABR values critical truth-telling and consciousness raising; it centers the participants (over the researcher) as experts and truth-tellers about their lived experiences (Finley, 2008). This de-centering raises the critical consciousness of the participants and the broader community as to how and by whom stories are told. Finally, ABR is transformative; research shows how ABR is therapeutic - enhancing emotional and psychological states (Heenan, 2006; Staricoff, 2006) - and humanizing - through counter-storytelling (Emmer, 2019), building community cohesion (Flicker et al., 2014), and shepherding social justice (Osei-Kofi, 2013).
The roundtable members view these aspects of ABR as liberatory. Our social work profession is dedicated to the structural, personal and psychological emancipation of people and communities. As social work scholars, we are obligated to consider the liberatory potential our research can have on the communities with whom we work. Given the relationship between ABR and liberation, we argue that ABR has a place in the broader field of social work research to align our discipline with its roots and mission in social justice.on 4-29-2021-->