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