Aotearoa (also known as New Zealand) is a jurisdiction that must respond to the inequitable elements of the multifaceted oppressions of its colonizing past and present if it is to live up to its claim to being an honorable nation. Early intensification of colonizing practices embedded European values over those of the indigenous people with lasting devastating effects. In search of a national integrity, activist traditions of exposure, resistance, dissent and non-violent direct action to injustices are longstanding in this land. Activist scholarship however, is a more recent phenomenon. We explore the potential of activist scholarship to contribute more directly to transformations that will embed justice in the diverse sociopolitical economic context of New Zealand. We outline what we understand by activist scholarship and how we believe it can strengthen both sociopolitical activism and academic scholarship in synergistic ways. We propose seven principles of activist scholarship, generated through on-going dialogue with our activist scholar peers. We offer them as a starting point for discussion and critique until a collective statement emerges. We showcase Ngāpuhi Speaks as an example of such potential synergies.
Heather Came, Joey MacDonald and Maria Humphries
Transfers and Transformations
With our eighth volume of this journal, the Transfers editorial team celebrates our achievements under our outgoing editor, Gijs Mom. This article outlines our priorities under our new editor, Dagmar Schäfer, and reaffirms our commitment to the burgeoning field of new mobility studies. The presentations by Mimi Sheller and Peter Merriman, fellow members of the editorial team, at our journal’s panel at the recent T2M conference, “Vistas of Future Mobility Studies: Transfers and Transformations” is summed up for the convenience of those who were not able to attend. This journal will continue to encourage and publish work that places mobilities at the center of our scholarship, with special emphasis on the humanities. Our commitment is to good, innovative, activist scholarship that can help us move toward alternative mobility futures.
Simon Roberts, Annalise Weckesser-Muthalali, Rachel Douglas-Jones, Monica Janowski and Mari Korpela
Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter: Reflections on Research in and of Corporations. Melissa Cefkin (ed.), Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 2009, ISBN 978-1-84545-598-9 (Hardback) ISBN 978-1-84545-777-8 (Paperback) 262 pp. Hb £50.00 Pb £21.00
Engaging Contradictions: Theory, Politics and Methods of Activist Scholarship. Charles R. Hale (ed.), Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-520-09861-9 (Paperback Only) 417 pp. £24.95
The Anthropology of Organizations. Alberto Corsín Jiménez (ed.), Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-7546-2595-7 (hardback only) 600 pp. £165.00
State, Communities and Forests in Contemporary Borneo. Fadzilah Majid Cooke (ed.), Canberra: Australian National University Press, 2006, ISBN 1-9209425-1-3 (Print Version) 208 pp.
The Nomads of Mykonos: Performing Liminalities in a ‘Queer’ Space. Pola Bousiou, New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2008, 322 pages, Paperback £15.95, ISBN: 978-1-84545-426-5
Methodological Reflections on Participatory and Ethnographic Research
The concept of participation is currently evoked by constituencies as varied as urban planners, local governments, universities and social movements. This coincides with a revival of participatory research methods in the social and cultural sciences. This article argues that the critical potential of participatory research methods should not be taken for granted in cognitive capitalism, where participation is as much an instrument for governmental regulation from above as it is a practice for democratic self-determination from below. First, the politics of participation from the emancipatory departures of the 1970s to today's revival are being discussed. Second, based on a long-term ethnographic study on the transnational Euromayday movement of the precarious, it is demonstrated how positioning the researcher using reflexive ethnography can support a critical research attitude through a process of reflexive hybridisation. In concluding, reflexive activist scholarship is outlined as a critical research attitude which encourages participatory knowledge production in a way that responds both to the field of activism and the field of academia.
“When the purpose at hand begins from the perspective of a philosophy of praxis, that is to say from a motivation to enhance the leverage of radical democratic interventions in history, then the forming of the intellectual problem takes a particular shape.” — Gavin Smith, Intellectuals and (Counter-) Politics: Essays in Historical Realism
This statement frames Gavin Smith’s thoughtful, complex text Intellectuals and (Counter-) Politics: Essays in Historical Realism. Indeed, you could call the book a manual for the forming of a problem from this kind of perspective and with this motivation. To give a comprehensive discussion of how this might happen, Smith brings in a whole range of questions: What is an intellectual? How do intellectuals reach audiences? How are counter-politics situated within time and space, and how should they be studied? By including the domains of intellectuals, political actors, publics, and the constraining tendencies of structure—of “capital’s fierce demands”—in his analysis, while always recognizing the porous and fluctuating boundaries between these domains, Smith (2014: 11) frames the question of activist scholarship and the ongoing historicity of politics in a way that attempts to grasp their changing, tangled, and slippery nature. The result is an immensely rich book that provides a nudge along the path to a complex account of arrangements of capital and political mobilization that it reveals.