The Centre for Research on Adult Learning and Education (CRALE) based in the Department of Adult and Community launched a new series of research seminars exploring participatory methodologies. CRALE is at the cutting edge of thinking about how research can be used to support equality, democracy and transformative learning.
To start the series we invited Dr Siobhan Madden to hold a seminar on the 16th of May who discussed issues of voices and representation in educational research The seminar was a remarkably rich and vibrant session that looked at the complexity of ‘giving voice’ in research and policy based on her PhD The Mermaids Dive for Freedom: Voices of Feminist Community Activists Plunging through Neoliberal Times
Dr Madden argued from a feminist perspective which is rooted in her and her research collaborators’ experience as activists and community educators, that uncritical practices of reflexivity are easily reabsorbed into a socio-political epistemology of certainty. This includes the representation of knowledge as the product of a linear process, from which emerges the knower as newly minted ‘expert’. To go beyond this we need to pay critical attention to the polyphony of dialogicality, embodied histories, intersectionality, and the inherent uncertainties and possibilities in the co-creation of alternative knowledge.
This led to a layered and highly engaged discussion which we will continue in forthcoming CRALE research seminars.