Workshop: Research Methods for Movements – Being Relevant and Responsible

Media@McGill is sponsoring a workshop, Research Methods for Movements – Being Relevant and Responsible, led by Dr. Elise Thorburn, on Friday, February 26, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., in Arts 160. Free and open to the public.

Methods for conducting research can often seem disconnected from the lives we live and the social movements and struggles we are a part of. How do we come to know the things we know with movements, and how can we conduct research that is relevant and responsible to the issues and struggles that we care about? This workshop will focus on creating a collective space to explore practical answers to these questions. While focused on social movement research, the conversations we will have and the answers we will collaboratively develop will benefit any researcher examining issues pertaining to the social impacts of contemporary media and technology. Drawing on both experience participating in social movements and engaging in activist research through interviews and participation, this workshop will open conversations about accountability and relevance, and how to balance these issues with the expectations one needs to meet within an academic setting.

Come prepared with paper and pen for free writing activities, and be prepared to talk and listen to each other in this hands-on workshop. Together we will develop tools for crafting research questions, and draft a set of practices for engaging in research with movements that meets the goals of credentialing requirements but also moves beyond them, making our research radical, relevant, and responsible to the social movements, communities, and publics we are a part of.

*It is recommended to read the attached articles on workers’ inquiries and militant research prior to the workshop.

1. Preface to the Research for Changing the World "Social Movements/Social Reserach"

2. Argentine collective Colectivo Situaciones lays out what they mean when they speak of the methods of "militant research" and positionality of the "militant-researcher":

3. Team Colors Collective from the USA, their process and what radical/militant research looks like for them:

4. Media art collective, Raqs, based in New Delhi, the collective and resistant processes of research done by an art/media collective:


Elise Thorburn is a longtime organiser, educator, and researcher with a PhD in Media Studies from the University of Western Ontario. She has participated in social movement organising since the 1990s in the anti-globalisation movement, Palestine solidarity struggles, feminist labour movements, and prison justice movements. She is on the editorial committee of the Canadian journal, Upping the Anti, and is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Social Justice Research Institute at Brock University, and with the On the Move Partnership in collaboration with the Vanier Institute of the Family. Elise lives on Mi’kmaq, Innu, Inuit, and Beothuk territory in St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.


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