Fieldwork as Political Activism

Year: 2017

Author: Hickey-Moody, Anna, Harwood, Valarie, Hayes, Debra

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This symposium offers three new, cutting edge approaches to fieldwork as political activism. Each of the
three presenters will provide a detailed overview of their research methods designed to create social change. Anna Hickey-Moody extends her work on affect as methodology and method (Hickey-Moody, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015) through designing and delivering a series of arts workshops to develop interfaith beliefs and associated aesthetic practices. She will share data arising from the early stages of a four-year research
program on interfaith childhoods and arts practice as method. Also theorizing a Future Fellowship project,
Valerie Harwood discusses working cross-culturally with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in
places where people are experiencing significant educational injustices and disadvantages. Her project task
was to conceive, develop, and put into action an innovative approach for promoting educational futures in
early childhood in places marked by poverty and educational disadvantage. She discusses how her fieldwork
practice has intervened in educational injustices by challenging dominant colonizing discourses and how,
through adapting social marketing techniques, she has devised a practice of strategic discourse production.
Deb Hayes reflects upon her long-term embedded research in schools, funded through successive ARC
grants with colleagues across a number of other institutions, as a type of political activism that is enacted and made meaningful, not only in the field but also in subsequent meaning making processes. Hayes
demonstrates that these collaborations in places where there are high levels of poverty and difference are not intentions and practices of the past, but are a form of activism that entails an ongoing reconfiguring of what is made available, and possible, for young people who experience multiple forms of exclusion. All three
approaches are empirically engaged yet theoretically informed, and each in their own way looks to create
social justice within a marginalized or disadvantaged community. In her role as discussant, Professor Mary
Louise Rasmussen will draw on her own socially engaged research with GLTBI youth to bring out uniting
reflections about the nature of research practice as activism.