Researchers Experience Multiple Embodiments in a Cross-Cultural, Intergenerational Event to Support Girls Challenging Gender-Based Violence
Keywords:Collaborative auto-ethnography, Consulting young people, Embodied reflexivity, Empowerment, Friction, Gender-based violence, Resistance, Youth voice
Many challenges exist to conducting participatory research and consultation with young people, especially with those considered vulnerable or at risk. Beyond respecting the safety and wellbeing of young research participants, researchers must be aware of barriers to youth engagement and be attuned to the many forms of youth resistance. As young people are seeking more control over their lives, traditional knowledge hierarchies between adults and youth are shifting. In July 2018, an event entitled Circles Within Circles brought together Indigenous and non-Indigenous girls and young women from South Africa, Canada, Russia, Sweden, and Kenya to learn from each other’s participatory art-making and create a network for challenging gender-based violence (GBV). This article provides insight into the often-invisible experience of the “supporting cast” in events like Circles Within Circles. The co-authors are doctoral and postdoctoral researchers who contributed to organization and acted as facilitators, notetakers, and participants. The co-authors conduct participatory analyses of journal entries they wrote throughout the event, and jointly reflect on the activities and their feelings about their roles. Reflecting, for example, on gut feelings about young participants’ use of voice and silence during adult-led activities, the co-authors discuss their reading of girls’ demonstrations of resistance. This embodied knowledge, further cultivated by attuning to shared experience, is explored in this collaborative auto-ethnography. Examining the complexities of this cross-cultural and intergenerational event, the co-authors contend that when supporting girls and young people subverting dominant narratives of GBV, researchers’ embodied reflexivity is crucial for positively contributing to girl-led change.
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