Session: WITHDRAWN: Uncovering Epistemic Violence and Resistance Among Global Populations Experiencing Extreme Adversity: A Roundtable Discussion on Research Methods (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

98 WITHDRAWN: Uncovering Epistemic Violence and Resistance Among Global Populations Experiencing Extreme Adversity: A Roundtable Discussion on Research Methods

Friday, January 14, 2022: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Independence BR H, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: International Social Work & Global Issues
Martha Bragin, PhD, Hunter College, Cindy Sousa, PhD, MSW, MPH, Bryn Mawr College and Bree Akesson, PhD, Wilfrid Laurier University
This proposed roundtable follows up on a roundtable from SSWR 2021, where the presenters described the need for critical trauma theories that move away from reducing global populations to the effects of the oppressive systems they have suffered. Drawing from research in contexts of political violence, the presenters built a case for the ways that this reductionist approach obfuscates the complexity of contexts and the multiple ways people--individually and collectively--express cultural resistance and resilience in the face of adversity. A question that emerged from the 2021 roundtable concerned the feasibility of research methodologies that can embody this critical stance, while enabling the process of knowledge building, ways of studying experience, and the efficacy of diverse intervention strategies. The proposed roundtable addresses this question by exploring the ways that epistemic violence is embedded within the research methods used to study suffering among global populations. Much of the knowledge about suffering, its effects, and subsequent social work intervention rests on epidemiological methods, which operate within specific medicalized frameworks that by their nature are unidimensional and fixed. Because the frameworks upon which these frameworks rest must capture the specific experiences of people at one point in time, they also limit the constructs they aim to develop. The resulting methods are static rather than dynamic, individual rather than collective, and devoid of meaning and context. Furthermore, an overreliance on manualized mental health diagnoses for outcomes and treatment planning leaves little room for variation and culturally-specific forms of suffering and resistance. Finally, these methods also tend to be highly individualized, leaving out collective contexts such as families and communities and the systems of meaning, relationship, and survival within which individuals exist. Responding to the 2022 conference theme of 'Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice', this proposed roundtable will draw from critical social theory to examine how research methods can uncover elements of epistemic violence and resistance (Hill Collins, 2019). The presenters will use three methodological case examples to think together about how to develop and employ research methods to study suffering, survival, and resistance efficiently, effectively, and in ways that preserve the complexities of human life as well as the dynamic nature of communal response. One will focus on the development of community participatory standards of child wellbeing (Bragin); the second on collaborative interviews used with war-affected and displaced families (Akesson); and the third on prolonged field work and focus groups aimed at community building and collective narration in contexts of political violence (Sousa). The roundtable discussion will focus on questions such as: How do we determine what is an appropriate methodology in volatile contexts? How do we navigate linguistically and culturally specific narratives of distress and resistance/resilience? How do we bring participants to the center of research? How do we use this knowledge to create opportunities for participatory intervention and evaluation? The audience will be invited to share their research experiences and ask questions that will delve deeply into ways of knowing as acts of racial, political, and social justice.
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