2014 Seed Grant Awardees Abstracts
Department of Anthropology
A collaborative project between activists for criminal justice reform in New York State and scholars from the University of North Carolina, this participatory research project seeks to examine the ways in which incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people form organizations, produce valuable knowledge, and assert political power. Through already existing relationships with the community, research activities will include analyses of historical documents related to early activist efforts, focus groups to interpret findings, and in-depth semi-structured interviews with community members to understand how they became incarcerated, their individual pathways to activism, their experience of incarceration, and their present activities. To fully involve the community in these efforts, community members will be partners in formulating research questions, collectively coding and analyzing the data, interpreting findings, and disseminating results through a community forum, and a series of radio broadcasts.
Curriculum in Archaeology, Department of Anthropology
As a collaborative archaeology project based in eastern Yucatán, Mexico, the goal of this participatory research is to work in partnership with members from the community of Tahcabo to investigate life conditions for local Mayan peoples from the colonial period to today. In order to ensure that community members are fully involved in the mapping of the community and the collective knowledge that emerges, a steering committee (consejo) of town residents will be assembled to plan research questions and activities, create project goals in partnership with the archaeologists, and generate ideas for community gifts as compensation for research participation. Scholars will work with the committee to shape ethnographic work, including oral histories to learn about the town’s past, genealogies, and a photovoice project undertaken with local youths. The end result will be participatory research that is created with community members to reflect their understanding of the town’s past and its relevance to their future.
Department of City and Regional Planning
Within the field of urban planning, this participatory research project aims to empower public housing residents in Charlotte, NC to evaluate policies and practices of two initiatives related to resident economic self-sufficiency.. To fully involve participants in the research process, housing residents will help develop the research design by determining the research questions, data collection methods, and reporting methods—choosing among potential options such as journaling, audio journals, and photo voice. Residents will also be involved in data analysis and data dissemination and will be compensated financially for their time. This research builds off already existing relationships with the community with an underlying belief that “engaging with residents as researchers, not the subjects of research, will yield surprising insights and innovative solutions” for how to best achieve economic self-sufficiency in relation to housing.
Department of American Studies
Within the field of American studies, my project works through archival research and oral history toward a participatory approach to queer history writing. I am working with Vicki Gabriner, a founding mother of the Atlanta Lesbian/Feminist Alliance, at Duke University’s Sallie Bingham Center. ALFA ran its own archive out of a collective house in Little Five Points for two decades (from 1972 to 1994). Now this collection sits at Duke. Vicki and I have been going to the ALFA archives together in both a study of Atlanta lesbian feminist life and a methodological repositioning of queer intergenerationality. Our collaborative project is interested in the ways in which LBGT archives function in queer culture and how they can function as a space for intergenerational transmissions of history. Beyond our archival co-learning, I am conducting oral histories with Vicki and other members of ALFA. We are working in diverse archives from personal papers and oral histories to FBI documents and the ALFA collection in a co-production of activist history across generations of queer experience.
Department of Geography
Focusing on child welfare practices and policies, this participatory research project aims to better understand what constitutes legal acceptable and unacceptable “risk” for the children in child welfare cases. I will examine struggles around custody and custody removal and how these abstract definitions of risk differ for those of varying perspectives, including lawyers, case workers, parent advocates, and parents, particularly mothers. In order to best understand how risk translates into the lived experience of these individuals, the first goal of this participatory research project will be to develop relationships with community members. This will involve both various groups of professionals, as well as mothers who have been involved in custody struggles and advocates who have worked on their behalf. These relationships will then be used as the basis for a) better understanding the technical legal issues surrounding child welfare and custody and b) building a research agenda that can be useful for all parties involved.