Dr Carmen Martinez-Vargas, University of the Free State

  • Duration: 60min
  • Language: English
  • Ages: All Ages
  • Date: December 10, 2021 16:00
  • Recorded: Live session with recording available afterwards
Sold out

Participatory approaches represent an extended family composed of methods, methodologies, and research typologies, from the most conventional and academic frame to the most radical post-modernist-decolonial understanding of enquiry. All these variations show that participatory approaches have been adapted to different fields and practices, creating specific tools for scholars that are committed to democratic values, social change, epistemic justice and decolonial aims in different ways. Furthermore, this diversity of practices and terminologies has mostly been embraced by scholars in the field in a positive sense.

Reason and Bradbury (2008), honour and value all the different orientations. Additionally, Dick and Greenwood (2015) attest that ‘being sectarian and narrow about the varieties of AR is not an option’. Thus, although it seems correct to embrace all these typologies, not all of them are implemented in the same way, nor are their aims equal and this is substantial when researching in the global South or African context.

Therefore, by focusing on the Southern decolonial debate as being central to participatory practices, this paper aims to undertake a critical review of the literatures highlighting limitations and challenges to preserve and respect indigenous and local epistemologies and cosmovisions under participatory research. Thus, the paper argues that considering all types of participatory practices as attempts at decoloniality may jeopardise the mutual critical learning needed among practitioners, specially in the global South


Carmen Martinez Vargas holds a PhD in Development Studies from the University of the Free State (South Africa) where she also taught postgraduate courses in Participatory Research Methodologies, Southern Theories and Development Studies. Her doctoral thesis focused on conceptualising and operationalising a Capabilities based participatory research project with university students in South Africa. She has published her academic work on epistemic in/justice, participatory research and colonial conversion factors in higher education in refereed journals, and as book chapters in various edited volume books.

Her research interests broadly focus on Decolonial and Southern thinking using the Capabilities Approach in Higher Education. And her forthcoming monograph is titled ‘Democratising Participatory Research: Pathways to Social Justice from the South’ (OpenBooks Publishers, 2021)