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Accepted Paper:

Decolonising research with Afro-Ecuadorian women  


Inge Boudewijn (Northumbria University)
Katy Jenkins (Northumbria University)
Hilary Francis (Northumbria University)
Antonia Carcelen Estrada (Universidad San Francisco de Quito)
Sofia Zaragocín (Universidad San Francisco de Quito)
Juana Carol Francis Bone

Paper short abstract:

As partners in Ecuador and the UK, we reflect on the process of creating a document of decolonial, feminist ethical principles for approaching our research project, and on how we uphold these internal commitments in the context of the formal, institutional ethical requirements we are subject to.

Paper long abstract:

In late 2019, a team of researchers and activists from Ecuador and the UK began a new oral history project, aiming to accompany Afro-Ecuadorian women in Esmeraldas province as they interrogate and articulate their history and heritage. The project, funded by the British Academy/GCRF ‘Heritage, Dignity and Violence’ programme, aims to harness Afro-Ecuadorian women’s heritage to promote sustainable development in a context characterised by violence, marginalisation and large-scale resource extraction. While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the planned workshops and oral history interviews, it also created a space for an extended exploration of the ethics of the project. This enabled the transnational research team to undertake a collaborative process, thinking through how we will ensure that the research is truly led by its Afro-Ecuadorian participants and embedding a decolonial approach at the heart of the project. In this paper, we explore our development of a collectively authored ethics document, which stands as our ethical agreement and baseline, and a record of our joint commitment to decolonise the research process. We consider the connections and dis-connections between the document we created and formal institutional ethics procedures, and critically analyse the lived experiences of negotiating a meaningful and appropriate ethical agreement between all research partners, in the virtual platforms mandated by the current pandemic. The paper reflects upon the complex, painstaking and time-intensive work needed to interweave decolonial and feminist principles and practices with institutional ethics processes and expectations, in order to unsettle the ways in which we do development research.

Panel P16b
Unsettling research ethics to promote progressive global social change II