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Good for Whom?: Unsettling Research Practice

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ACM Press, New York


Through this paper, we join others concerned by the rhetoric that research and technology design contribute to a common good. We argue that framings of commonality obfuscate the detrimental effects of accepted research practice, particularly for disenfranchised communities. Claims of a common good are in alignment with a colonial perspective---a single all knowing entity, in this case personified by the researcher, who has the expertise and experience necessary to identify what is of benefit to all. Our argument is informed by our engagement with four Indigenous community|academic partnerships. We describe our efforts to avoid perpetuating problematic (yet common) research dynamics through questioning, critiquing and adjusting our practices as a research team. We offer understandings gained through attempts to unsettle our approach to research, grounded by the diverse experience and envisioned futures of our partners. We argue for the continued need for spaces where the short and longer-term implications of research practice can be articulated, discussed and acted upon.


Nathan, Lisa P.; Kaczmarek, Michelle; Castor, Maggie; Cheng, Shannon; Mann, Raquel (2017): Good for Whom?: Unsettling Research Practice. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Communities and Technologies. DOI: 10.1145/3083671.3083685. ACM Press, New York. ISBN: 978-1-4503-4854-6. pp. 290-297. Long Papers. Troyes, France. June 26-30, 2017