Research as Action and Performance: Learning with Activists in Resource Conflicts

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Contribution to Books

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How do conflicts around nature influence our attempts to learn about them? We use a dialogic approach to wrestle with this question drawing from our experience of working with movements against extractivism in Pakistan and Colombia. Resource geographies are constituted by embodied spatial practices, and social movements are rich sites of knowledge creation that can follow alternative epistemologies. To access these alternative ways of knowing, we suggest starting by centering on our own positionality, navigating both the performance of academic learning and the performative aspects of resource conflicts. Learning from and with activists may conflict with standard academic research practices, but it can also potentiate deeper learning about these conflicts. To do this task, we suggest action research and radical performance geography as approaches for doing critical resource geographies. Our dialogue centers around a set of questions on the ethics, modalities, tools, and outputs of action research that lies at the intersection of political action and investigation.