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Theme of the Conference



Throughout his career, visionary Colombian sociologist Orlando Fals Borda argued against the concept that research should be seen as a playground for an academic elite.  With a conviction of the need for more and more feeling-thinkers (sentipensantes) in contemporary times, his vision for true democratic research was straightforward: "Do not monopolise your knowledge nor impose arrogantly your techniques, but respect and combine your skills with the knowledge of the researched or grassroots communities, taking them as full partners and co-researchers.” [1]  The spirit of these words holds as true today as it did almost forty years ago when he helped to organize the First World Symposium of Participatory Action Research in 1977.

Since the time these seeds were sewn in Colombia, participatory action research, and participatory approaches in general, has grown to be used around the world in an endeavour to create diverse knowledge rooted in field-based research work. It has been used to combat poverty, to restore the dignity of those marginalized by colonization and globalization, to rebalance ecological justice, to investigate sustainable human development infrastructures, and to foster peace and reconciliation in areas of conflict and post-conflict in diverse regions of the globe. This present conference is dedicated to this hopeful vision of knowledge creation, to personal empowerment emanating from this approach, and to discuss the various aspects of this theoretical position and methodology in the hope of consolidating its role in research networks around the world today… and tomorrow. 

[1] April 1995, Conference of southern sociologists in Atlanta.