Some weeks ago during sauna, my brother-in-law asked me: “What exactly do you do (as a researcher)?” This text – my opening remarks at my PhD defense in 2016 – is my answer to the question. Read here if you ever wondered the same about research in general and my work specifically.
In the keynote panel at Nordmedia 2019, in Malmö (Sweden), I talked about (a) what I have been doing as a researcher to overcome challenges in academia; (b) how I have challenged myself to be a better researcher; and (c) how I have tried to exchange ideas with society and future generations of scholars.
In February 2021, I participated in the Speaker Series of Loughborough University and Cardiff University. I talked about Paulo Freire’s legacy in our work at ARMA Alliance. I argued that Freire remains a key reference for collective action for solidarity, mutual learning, justice, respect and changes.
Doing activist research is very rewarding, but also very challenging. Collaborative efforts – especially as individuals in a neoliberal society – can be highly emotional and conflicting. Experiencing a call-out and a shout-out in the past weeks taught me about the importance of being upfront and promoting mutual support in academia and activism.
On December 2017, Kone Foundation awarded me and Monica Gathuo a grant to conduct the project we call Anti-Racism Media Activist Alliance (ARMA): Research and Activism Collaboration for Creative Uses of Digital Media, Pedagogy and Arts against Racism in Finland. In this text, I explain what ARMA Alliance is.
I spent most of last Saturday in Maré. Maré is a region formed by sixteen favelas in the North Zone (low-income working-class region) of Rio. Since March Maré has been occupied by the army. I mentioned to a local friend that I would like to see the favela with the presence of the army. I have wondered how it has affected the everyday life of the place. So she took me around for what she called an “ethnographic walk”. These are some perceptions I had during and after it.
As a social scientist, being a local outsider puts me in a privileged position. In researching Brazilian society, I have more access to the people and its mentality than many of my non-Brazilian colleagues. At the same time, I am more detached from Brazil than my colleagues studying ourselves as people from within.