Emerging community-based research efforts are framing the engagement process as an opportunity for communities to tell their narratives on their own terms and elucidate their challenges to others. At the community level, research participation has been framed as a political strategy for disrupting biased knowledge production, allowing populations to tell their collective stories in ways rarely communicated. At the micro level, the research endeavor can become empowering, even therapeutic for people navigating life experiences of harm. This presentation will explore the ways in which communities of color experiencing surveillance and hyper-incarceration view the community based participatory research process as they explore both historical and contemporary experiences of surveillance.
Methods: This project is currently implementing a mixed qualitative research strategy, which utilizes a photovoice method followed by semi-structured interviews to explore the lived experiences of individuals with previous criminal involvement living in Chicago. With a sample of 20 justice- involved individuals our RWJF team is exploring how participants view their community, their familial relationships, interactions with police and how this shapes their mental and physical health.
Results: Preliminary findings reveal that communities navigating hyper surveillance perceive the research process as a context for telling their stories and empowerment. Participants view methods of photovoice voice as critical ways to reflect on how their experiences such as of policing and violence are shaping their health. Participants also discussed the community engaged process of researchers’ telling of their own stories as critical to building relational trust. While participants reported risks of emotional distress particularly as they engage in photovoice, sharing knowledge through group sessions and community exhibits about the ways in which surveillance shapes well-being was seen as an advocacy opportunity as well as a way of reflectively healing.
Conclusions and Implications: The implications underscore the need for greater considerations of how experiences of multi-system oppression shape the research process and how scholars can further promote compassionate research and interviewing strategies embedded in a critical ethics of care and justice.