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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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Chapter 7: Remining the Evidence in Search of Fresh Finds


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Chapters 1, 5, and 6 presented the bulk of the evidence for this study. They merged personal and public stories, observations, recollections, destination studies, school reports, critical analyses, and my experiential and emotional journey of being an insider activist researcher as a means of coming to know Who am I? What is? What could or should be? What can I do about it? and How do others see me as a result of what I’ve done? (see Figure 4.1, p. 59). The purpose of this chapter is to conduct a macro-analysis of the evidence gathered and generated by this study. Chapter 7 continues to blur the boundaries between analysis and evidence by revisiting, reexamining, and remining the evidence whilst looking for points of overlap and bifurcation. In this chapter the links between discursive constructions of gender, ideological belief systems, power asymmetries, and the capacity the researcher has for inspiring transformational thinking and action are made explicit.

The first section of Chapter 7 fossicks through the evidence to explore how gender was being ideologically produced and reproduced through the texts, social structures, and cultural and discursive practices of Wheatville. The second section fossicks through the evidence to illuminate the transformative potential of communally unsettling phallocentric discourses of white male entitlement within and across a community, and the final section ← 183 | 184 → fossicks through the evidence in order to deepen understandings of how I positioned, and was...

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