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Unsettling Research

Using Critical Praxis and Activism to Create Uncomfortable Spaces


Sherilyn Lennon

Unsettling Research investigates what can be learned from the journey of an insider activist researcher seeking social transformations around issues of gender in an isolated rural Australian community. Unique and risky in its undertaking, the research evolves to create a new discourse in qualitative research. A seamless bricolage of autobiography/ethnography, narrative, feminist theory, critical theory, media literacy, critical pedagogy, and social theory, this work takes qualitative research to the next level. It enacts the notion of social justice, while creating a new lens through which to view action via research … research via action. The author allows the personal to establish positionality, and then works from within her position to create a meta-perspective on dialogue, action, and community manifestations of power. The analytic component of the research couples an ongoing process of coming-to-know with a need to address a community issue. By developing a conceptual framework and a process for disclosing and dislocating ideological hegemony and its associated power imbalances, the research adds to knowledge in the fields of gender and education, social justice, and nascent activist pedagogies. Whilst the particulars are located in Australia, the book creates a global lens for qualitative activist research.
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Conducting an activist study and writing a book have much in common. They are both rather daunting yet highly rewarding experiences. They are also experiences shared and shaped by others. Jon (Austin), your sage advice, personal library loans, and enthusiasm for what I was doing gave me the confidence to believe that I too had a story worth telling. Thank you for this gift. Dorothy (Andrews), you are so wise and your guidance so gentle that I barely felt your touch. You seemed to know just when and how to redirect me whenever I started to falter. My sincerest thanks for your unconditional support and friendship. Robyn (Henderson), I have been privileged and honored to know you. You have such an incredible breadth of knowledge and give of your time so unstintingly. Your patience, willingness to listen, probing questions, and generosity have helped to take me on a most remarkable journey of discovery—a journey I know has been richer because you have been on it with me. A simple “thank you” just does not seem sufficient.

To my beautiful children, Will, Luke, and Lydia, thank you for your tolerance and patience whilst I have pursued my passion. I hope you have been inspired to challenge the taken-for-granted and believe that, with effort and commitment, anything is possible. To my husband, Peter, I know that there ← xi | xii → have been times when you have found my work challenging. Thank you for accepting that it is something...

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