Doing FPE Research
The first training lab held in Brighton from 7-16 March 2019 raised awareness of how to engage with powerful institutions that shape global knowledge production, in what is called a ‘study–up’ process. This is an essential first step in FPE’s work to ensure that scholars are aware of and accountable within the spaces of power, privilege, and oppression that feminist political ecologists seek to transform.
Our aim was to share and learn together, creating a collective process of building WEGO as a research network focusing on:
- Building knowledge of who WEGO is (individually and collectively)
- Deciding collectively on how WEGO will work together – our ethics, our values, our aims, our hopes
- Learning more about how we understand feminist political ecology conceptually and as a research process that is about doing knowledge otherwise
- Exploring some methodologies that advance feminist political ecology knowledges and research
- Learning about our commonalities and differences
- Using the time and space for discussions, while out walking, cooking together, sharing living space, collecting rubbish on the sea shore, meeting Brighton feminists etc.
- Reviewing the ESR projects, secondments, future training labs
- Deciding on common writing projects, planning blogs and panels in conferences.
- Meeting EC requirements – data and privacy, ethics and ESRs mid-term review with EC officer
- Keeping collective memory by recording together the event – we will be asking that we all share responsibility for recording what is happening – at least one mentor one student per day to write notes, do drawings, write up a blog.
- Setting up a digital ideas board on the Mycelium to be able to post ideas for side-conversations or evening film screenings people would like to propose during the workshop
- Developing and sharing with the community a Pecha Kucha-style presentation of WEGO feminist political ecology projects.
In working together, engaging in Brighton’s landscapes and nurturing our network, we focused our efforts around three core aspects of feminist political ecology, with the expectation that everyone uses the space and time provided to work through how (and if) these will be engaged in their individual projects. These are:
(i) understanding concepts/theories aligned with feminist political ecology (FPE’s value and power);
(ii) Participatory Action Research – research from ‘below’;
(iii) Institutions, elites, power – researching ‘up’.
Participatory Action Research – research from ‘below’
Leading scholar in participatory action research methodology Prof. Giovanna Di Chiro will conduct a training in participatory action research looking how to conduct research in and with communities, as well as how to undertake non extractive knowledge production. The training will use interdisciplinary approaches from political ecology, environmental science, history, geography, cultural studies, and social movement theory to look at how to approach diverse environmental justice struggles and community activism in contemporary environmental issues and how to incorporate a community- based learning component in research. Th training will look at how FPE principles are practiced and how to engage with implicated communities both locally and globally, for mutual benefit and reciprocally enrichingrelationships.
Institutions, elites, power – researching ‘up’
We held a four-day training on researching ‘up’ methods to enable ESRs to explore the specific discourses that shape who is recognised as an expert in sustainability and how this impacts scholars’ attempts to recognise women and LGBTQ-identified individuals as experts in their own communities.
Participants will learn skills in landscape and social media discourse analysis using feminist new media (feminist Nature2.0) techniques. Participants will explore strategies for how to recognise algorithmic, procedural and management logics in institutional communities such as development NGOs, local government offices, corporate working environments, higher education institutions (HEIs) and professional networking events and conferences. University sites in particular present opportunities for ESRs to learn techniques for understanding institutional logics of power that can render care work and community relationships and activism invisible. This training session draws on the strong history in FPE of engaging with feminist science, technology and society studies and critically examining the production of environmental spaces, citizens and expertise. ESRs will build on these analytical skills to address the production of power, knowledge and truth claims affecting broader feminist efforts to create community economies, a politics of care and to assert more just ways of living and thriving.
The network had a chance to move their collective knowledge and understanding forward, and to ensure:
- ESRs feel confident and supported in developing the specifics of their own research designs and methods and
- mentors and partners exploring ways to engage collaboratively in furthering the FPE research agenda through the WEGO space.
All photos: WEGO