EP63: Who Researches the Researchers?


Researchers with the best of intentions still get things wrong. “Who made you the expert” is a valid question that research subjects might ask… and frankly, they’re right to ask that. If you’re, say, a drug user in Vancouver’s downtown east side you probably don’t want some guy from Harvard telling you what paternalistic research he’s doing on you. You want to be a partner in research done with you.

So what does it look like when the old paternalistic ways are dispensed of? Garth Mullins hosts Crackdown, a podcast about the drug war in Vancouver covered by the drug users themselves. Gordon talks to him about being the researcher and the researched in the downtown east side, a place where activists and academics have come together to develop better methods.

We also talk to Michelle Fine of City University of New York. She’s a leading proponent of “critical participatory action research“. That’s a way of researching that de-centres the academic. We find out the theory, and what that means for expertise more broadly.

Special thanks to Samona Marsh, one of the authors of Research 101: A process for developing local guidelines for ethical research in heavily researched communities, and also to Liz Dozier of Chicago Beyond. Liz and Samona’s work was really important to this episode even if we couldn’t get their voices to air.

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