Participatory Action Research and reconciliation processes: The return of the witches.
ARNA Conference 2018 is very near and promises to be a great event, a place in time and space to share questions, answers, dreams, experiences… The Conference to be held in University of California, San Diego and the Theme is: Knowledge Mobilization for Equitable & Peaceful Social Progress. June 28-30, 2018. Call for Abstracts Is open yet, submission deadline is March 30 (http://arnawebsite.org/conferences/sandiego2018/).
I remember Arna Conference 2017, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, June 12-16, 2017. We had an amazing experience sharing the general theme: Democratization of Knowledge: New Convergences for Reconciliation.
Orlando Fals Borda, the visionary Colombian sociologist was inside the spirit of the Conference. As organizer said, he ‘…argued against the concept that research should be seen as a playground for an academic elite. With a conviction of the need for more and more feeling-thinkers (sentipensantes) in contemporary times, his vision for true democratic research was straightforward: “Do not monopolise your knowledge nor impose arrogantly your techniques, but respect and combine your skills with the knowledge of the researched or grassroots communities, taking them as full partners and co-researchers.” (April 1995, Conference of southern sociologists in Atlanta). The spirit of these words holds as today as it did almost forty years ago when he helped to organize the First World Symposium of Participatory Action Research in 1977.”
The power of Orlandos’ vision, his words and actions moved me to accept to participate in the Main Dialogue 2 “Epistemological and political considerations in the new convergences”. The Dialogue had as Special guests: Boaventura de Sousa Santos (Portugal), Carlos Rodrigues Brandao (Brazil), María Teresa Castillo (Mexico), and was moderated by Oscar Jara, from CEAAL (Costa Rica). To share the space, experiences and dreams with my partners, was an amazing experience, especially being a woman doing presence there. My presentation focused on women in the history and today, how women have been stigmatized by her knowledge, ways of proceed and for being women. Women have been called witches, and many were burned because the knowledge she’s had, were cooks, perfumers, healers, counselors, peasants, midwives or nannies. Witches, yes I am a witch’s apprentice also, have had also forbidden areas for the only fact of being women. Scientific research has been one of them. There are compañeras who have written how the incorporation of women into science occurs late, mainly in the second half of the 20th century. One question in ARNA 2017 was: should science contribute to changes for a better world? As a witch I answered yes! Definitively and inescapably. Fortunately, the insertion of women as professional researchers is increasing, and their work as researchers of their own reality also advances in daily life since decades ago. Unfortunately violence against women also advances, just because it is so, like centuries ago. As women we have much to contribute to the common benefit; but we want to make it as a big community, like a part of reconciliation, not as women alone.