Contemporary Issues in Participatory Geography: Registration and Session Details

We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for our two-day online event – Contemporary Issues in Participatory Geography: Challenges, Opportunities, and New Directions.

Please register for free via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/contemporary-issues-in-participatory-geography-tickets-146500142871

Please find the event schedule and session details below.

Please note, this schedule may be subject to slight changes – the final, full schedule will be updated and circulated to registered attendees before the event. Please feel free to register for the event and join us either for the full two days, or for specific sessions which interest you.

Get in touch with the event coordinators with any questions: Caitlin Hafferty (caitlinhafferty@connect.glos.ac.uk) and Bruna Montuori (bruna.montuori@network.rca.ac.uk).

Day 1: Wednesday 12th May, 10:30-16:00 BST.

Navigating Tensions in Participatory Research with Third Sector Organisations (presentations and discussant)

11:30-12:30

Presentation 1: Reflexivity, Community Work, and the State

Speaker: Kahina Meziant (Doctoral Researcher, Northumbria University).

Participatory approaches to research can be highly valuable in supporting communities. Hardly divisible from an activist-oriented scholarship, these approaches carry with them ideologies and epistemologies that are not always shared by all members of the community. In my PhD project, I have, and am continuously experiencing the tensions that arise from diverging political and ethical outlooks on the work undertaken. The questions of what to do with these tensions, how to negotiate them, and ultimately how to sit with them as a necessary step to building trust and implementing long-term change, is at the heart of this presentation. I will talk about the importance and the difficulty of practicing reflexivity as a delicate balance between critically examining one’s own work and accepting the researcher as an enabler.  

The empirical context of my work is located in ‘spaces of welcome’ for people identified as “migrants”, “asylum seekers” and “refugees”. Within this, I challenge the structuring mechanisms of these spaces as imposed by state-sanctioned organisation frameworks. Those tend to reproduce violent hierarchies (white-savior complex), entrench racialized identities, and prevent deeper reflexive practice from emerging.

Presentation 2: Negotiating Roles, Establishing Correspondences, and Enacting Care

Speaker: Bruna Montouri (Doctoral Researcher, Royal College of Art).

Participatory methodologies support researchers to create a more meaningful relationship with the context and subjects of their work. Particularly with local organisations and grassroots movements fighting for justice from below, enacting participatory methods engenders multiple elements for reflection: power imbalances, issues on positionality and self reflexivity, reciprocity and mutual support, among others. In my PhD research, I have been working in partnership with an NGO based in Maré, the largest set of favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Dealing with a context marked by different disputes of power, a legacy of social exclusion and issues on representation allowed me to better understand my position as a researcher and external collaborator. 

From my research experience in Maré, I seek to explore in this talk ideas involving the role of the researcher, learning when to speak and to listen, and understanding how to correspond back to your research partners. Common habits such as obliterating oneself and learning how to deal with rejection are a few points to be discussed, which I will connect with my own experience in fieldwork. Through notions on ethics of care, I aim to go deeper in the relationship between researchers and participants in light of unpredictable contexts, and explore the tensions woven in language and cultural exchange. From academia to real life situations, I intend to bring the lessons I learned and the challenges of working with an organisation rooted in social movements from the 1970s.

The Art and Practice of Participatory Research at the Science-Policy Interface (workshop)

14:00-16:00

Organised by: Dr Thea Wingfield (University of Liverpool) and Laura Sobral (Instituto Universitario de Lisboa and TU Wien).

A myriad of complex issues facing the world: climate crisis and clean energy, public health, human rights and justice, conservation, social and economic development, education, and food security, are the target of an increasing number of policy documents, looking for solutions that call for transformative approaches. Policy specialists in health, education, environment, culture and the economy are unified in their invitations to breakdown disciplinary silos and advocate bringing together specialists and non-specialists to: define problems that are locally relevant but hinge on national and international governance, imagine desirable futures that cultivate inclusivity and improve the quality and relevance of research outputs. The approach is appealing in theory but can be difficult to achieve in practice. This workshop is targeted at individuals who are working to break down disciplinary boundaries and incorporate the voices of academic and non-academic actors in participatory or transdisciplinary research. 

We invite contributions from researchers, students, industry, civil society, and policymakers with experience or interest in participatory and collaborative working at the science-policy interface.  The workshop aims to generate recommendations for participatory and collaborative working designed for a broad audience with a common interest in working beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. The contributions will form material for the workshop which will be discussed and refined and published as a short guide for researchers – The art and practice of participatory research at the science-policy interface.

Day 2: Thursday 13th May, 09:30-14:30 BST.

La Tela: Resisting Isolation Through the Arts ‘in Common’ (presentation and discussant)

09:45-10:30

Speaker: Martina Locorotondo (Doctoral Researcher, Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA), De Montfort University).

La Tela is an on-line participatory art process which was initiated by the open-community of l’Asilo – one of the commons of the city of Naples (Italy) – seeking to feed communitarian ties despite physical isolation, when the first lock-down in March 2020 was enforced.


La Tela is also an open-ended artwork living on the web, which takes its ever-changing shapes from people’s interactions happening during a weekly virtual assembly every Wednesday from 7 PM to 9 PM. Its temporary configuration is accessible at the on-line address http://www.exasilofilangieri.it/la_tela/#Arti_Virali; anybody could take part in the assembly by sending an email at the address la_tela@exasilofilangieri.it.


Indeed, one of the purposes that underlie the experimentation of La Tela is the one of overcoming a notion of art as expression of an individual “genius”, while it proposes instead interactions and relationships between ideas and people as the founding core of creativity.


The presentation will be opened by an introduction on the Beni Comuni (commons) of Naples, in particular l’Asilo, whose open-community began La Tela. It will highlight how La Tela reflects some of the sedimented practices of the former, and at once how it represents a contingent response to the pandemic.


Then, the participant process of La Tela will be illustrated, as well as some of La Tela’s temporary outcomes and its art-works.
The session will be concluded with an occasion to reflect on the process of researching as a PhD student on a participant on-line process like La Tela, by adopting at their turn a participant methodology.

Challenges and Opportunities of Digital Participatory Research during COVID-19 (workshop)

10:50-12:20

Organised by: Dr Susanne Börner (Marie Curie Global Fellow, University of Birmingham and University of Sao Paulo).

The workshop will focus on the challenges and opportunities of conducting digital participatory research during covid-19. The workshop will open with a short presentation on the ethics and practicalities of conducting digital participatory research with young people in vulnerable communities in the urban periphery of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Based on the presentation, we will then discuss different issues related to data collection in new and ongoing research under covid-19. The workshop is mainly aimed at early career and postgraduate researchers using participatory methods and practices in their research and working across different disciplines and geographical contexts. However, other participants are also welcome. Participants are invited to share short case-studies (approx. 5 minutes) related to the main challenges (and opportunities) of conducting digital participatory research under covid-19. This can include but is not limited to issues such as access to communities, trust- building, ethical challenges, methods and digital inclusion/exclusion, power dynamics, practicalities, scientific norms, etc. During the workshop, we will also discuss pathways for future action, such as a call for case-studies on the ethics of participatory action research during covid-19.

“Best practice” Public Engagement: Challenges, Opportunities, and Future Directions (panel session and interactive debate)

13:30-14:30

Organised by: Caitlin Hafferty (Doctoral Researcher, Countryside and Community Research Institute).

Details TBA.