Academic journal article International Journal of Action Research

Homage to Fals Borda: A Report from III International Symposium of Action and Participatory Research (Bogotá, June 22-25, 2015)

Academic journal article International Journal of Action Research

Homage to Fals Borda: A Report from III International Symposium of Action and Participatory Research (Bogotá, June 22-25, 2015)

Article excerpt

Introduction

Action Research grew in different social and political contexts, acquiring different forms and sometimes different names. It is today a rather broad cluster of practices that, nevertheless, have in common some basic epistemological assumptions which, in their turn, are also not established as unchallenged and unchanging laws. The International Journal of Action Research takes an active part in developing this complex field by providing a platform for sharing relevant practices and theoretical advances. With the passage of time, however, there was also felt the need to create other spaces where researchers could meet face-to-face to discuss their projects and approaches to action research. The original idea of an academy of action research was at the horizon at this time, and still inspires the movement of itinerant forums which are taking place.

With these considerations as a backdrop, the First Symposium of Action and Participatory Research was organised in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in June 2011, under the theme "Research and Social Transformation". In this symposium connection was made with the international conferences organised by Orlando Fais Borda in Cartagena (Colombia), in 1977 and 1997. Although very modest as compared to the Colombian conferences, Porto Alegre's experience evidenced the relevance and timeliness of organising dialogical spaces for researchers working with action research and, more generally, with participatory methodologies. Selected papers were published in the International Journal of Action Research, Vol. 7(2), 2011 andVol. 7(3), 2011 and in the book Conhecer e tranformar: pesquisa açâo e pesquisa participante em diálogo internacional (2014). At the end it was decided that the next meeting would be held in Copenhagen (Denmark).

In the letter of invitation, Marianne Kristiansen and Jorgen BlochPoulsen, the organisers of the Copenhagen conference, reaffirmed the purpose of this forum as well as proposing a provocative theme, as they wrote: "The conference is an invitation to researchers and practitioners interested in participatory and action research. The purpose of the conference is to establish a forum for renewed reflections on the concept of participation in relation to power whether you work with organisational development projects in Scandinavia, participatory projects aiming at empowering marginalised groups in Latin America, social community projects in the UK etc. What are the challenges, dilemmas and tensions of participation, power, and democracy in participatory and action research projects? How are these dealt with theoretically and tackled practically?" A special issue of the International Journal of Action Research, Vol. 9(1), 2013 was organized on the topic of participation and power, and selected papers were also published in an ebook (Participation and power: In participatory research and action research, 2014). It was proposed that the next meeting should take place in Bogotá (Colombia), the homeland of Orlando Fais Borda.

Alfonso Torres Carrillo, professor at the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, took up the responsibility to organise this conference which had its focus on methodological advances and creativity. As the forum moves from one place, meaning countries and continents, to another, it also experiences new formats. In this case, there are three important features to be mentioned. The first one is that there was a movement of pre-forums, involving the universities that participated in the organisation. This also meant that the Symposium did not happen in just one place, but participants were invited to know other spaces and other people in the city. The second aspect was the invitation to visit actual practices of action research in the two days after the regular conference in urban and in rural communities. Thirdly, it was an opportunity to pay homage to Orlando Fais Borda. Participants came to know in loco about the work and life of this man who keeps inspiring new generations of researchers in Latin America. …

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