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Race, Ethnicity, Indigenous Peoples and Politics

L15(a) - Workshop: Socially Engaged Research – Navigating Questions of Consent, ‘Community’ Knowledge, and Activist-Scholarship

Date: Jun 6 | Time: 08:45am to 10:15am | Location: SWING 309

Chair/Président/Présidente : Leah Levac (University of Guelph)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Leah Levac (University of Guelph)

Navigating Privilege While Doing Intersectional Qualitative Research: Lessons From Studying Grassroots LGBTQ of Colour Activism: Alexie Labelle (Université de Montréal)
Abstract: Since its introduction in the academic field in the late 1980s by the legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, the concept of ‘intersectionality’ has without a doubt become a staple contribution to feminist scholarship. While numerous scholars have thoroughly engaged with its definition and its use as a theoretical framework, attention has now been given to intersectionality as a way of doing research (Hancock 2007; Dhamoon 2011). Spanning mostly from McCall’s (2005) pivotal work on intersectional methodological approaches, a growing body of literature has been focusing on the ways in which scholars conduct intersectional research, using either qualitative (Christensen and Jensen 2012; Windsong 2016), quantitative (Harell 2017), or mixed-methods approaches (Griffin and Museus 2011). However, few have engaged more in depth with the ways in which an intersectional methodological approach can and should be applied for the study of social movements and grassroots activism. For instance, how does an intersectional methodological approach translate on the ground and what implications does it have on social movements, and on the research process itself? Drawing from my own experience studying LGBTQ people of colour activism in Montreal and Toronto, this paper aims to reflect on the ways in which intersectionality as a methodological approach shapes qualitative research for the study of social movements. More precisely, I argue that adopting such an approach invites the researcher to unpack the notion of privilege in the context of research, to complexify the insider/outsider dichotomy, and to reassess the ethical components at the core of research.


Strategies of Activist Research: scholarship on, for, and with social movements: Karl Gardner (York University)
Abstract: Now more than ever, activists and organizers on the Left are looking for relevant scholarship and useful analysis to contribute to their campaigns and long-term strategies. Unfortunately, much of academic research on social movements is not written for the very subjects it claims to speak about. It is unsurprising, then, that activists rarely read or find useful academic research on social movements (Flacks, 2004; Bevington and Dixon, 2005). Therefore, the role of university-based research in contributing to movements will be continue to limited if it continues this trend—even if it is done under the banner of “Social Movement Studies." Instead, a commitment to socially-engaged research that produces knowledge with and for movements, rather than simply on or about them, is needed. As such, I will address two questions. First, how does the research process shift when scholars use "relevance" to movements (Flacks, 2004) as their criteria for effective research, rather than focusing on their contributions or adjustments to abstract theories? Second, if socially-engaged research requires us to “take sides” and explicitly work in support of social justice, as I will argue, then what methodological and theoretical tools can socially-engaged scholars use to produce what Bevington and Dixon (2005) call “movement-relevant” research? In answering these questions, I draw from both my years as a grassroots organizer in Toronto, as well as interviews conducted for my doctoral research in Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver.