Affective Attachments: How "Doing and Being Good" Undermine the Liberatory Possibilities of Participatory Action Research




participatory action research, community-based research, affect theory, social justice


Critical appraisals of participatory action research (PAR) tend to focus on better partnering practices among community and university collaborators with less attention to theorizing the material effects of our affective attachments and aspirations toward socially just outcomes and relationships. In this qualitative inquiry, I draw on interviews with 29 academics, community-based professionals, and peer researchers with extensive experiences of PAR. I use affect theory as an analytic entry point to explore how our commitments to socially just outcomes and relations act to paradoxically undermine PAR’s liberatory possibilities and displace the socially unjust conditions that PAR practitioners aim to transform.

Author Biography

Julia E. Janes, Memorial University

Julia Elizabeth Janes is a disabled, White, settler assistant professor of social work at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador situated on the unceded lands of the Beothuk and Mi’kmaq. Julia’s scholarship and activisms centre on decolonizing and mad praxes, community/university engagements –particularly with Indigenous communities, social work as harm reduction, and arts-infused, critical and poststructural methodologies. When the ice melts, Julia can be found swimming in the cool waters of Ktaqmkuk and Rama First Nation.