Activist Research & Grassroots Movements: Perspectives from the Global South

As academics, we often want our work to make material and social changes to the world we live in. Activist research operates from multiple positionalities and fields to produce knowledge, engage with activist work and connect to political movements that seek to challenge the status quo, from the lived experiences of marginalised, oppressed and impoverished groups through scholarship or collaborative pursuits. Scholarly activism or Scholactivism thus provides a space for academics to play a frontline role in advocacy to either support or catalyse action, or challenge inequities as crucial actors for knowledge mobilization and access. Thus, the university may itself serve as a terrain for emancipatory struggle and democratic participation.

While in many spaces in the Global North, this seems to be a choice that one makes, in the Global South activist research is both necessary and sometimes not accompanied by the luxury of choice. This is particularly true for academics working with grassroots movements which are explicitly connected to political ideology and are committed to disrupting power dynamics.

This panel invites a much-needed discussion on activist research, with a focus on the Global South, making the case for empirically grounded, interdisciplinary and engagement-led research that is informed by rigorous academic principles, but without compromising the need for pushing and advocating for change. Discussions will also highlight issues around power dynamics and challenges linked to underrepresentation and coloniality in activist research.

Our Speakers:

Associate Professor Ligia Carolina Oliveria-Silva is a Psychologist (Federal University of Sergipe, Brazil), Ph.D. and has completed Masters in Social, Work and Organizational Psychology (University of Brasília, UnB, Brazil), with an internship at Loughborough University (UK). She is an Associate Professor at the Psychology Institute in Federal University of Uberlândia (Brazil). She is also leader of the Research Group "Working with Marias: Psychology, Career and Women", supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (Brazil) and Member of the Brazilian Society of Organizational and Work Psychology (SBPOT) and the National Association for Research and Post-Graduate Studies in Psychology (ANPEPP). She coordinates research and applied projects on women's career achievement and progression, women's leadership, women's barriers in male-dominated fields, gender biases, ambivalent sexism, motivation to lead, career-helping behaviors, career guidance programs, and mentoring for women. In the last 5 years, she has received research funding from the State of Minas Gerais Research Support Foundation (FAPEMIG) for the research project “Women in predominantly male careers: Career goals achievement and perception of barriers”, as well as from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, for the project “How to Foster Women's Careers in Technology: Testing the Impact of a Leadership Program”. She is interested in why women have difficulties entering, remaining and ascending in career, mainly in STEM fields, as well as the factors that contribute to the economic empowerment of women and the reduction of gender inequities. One of her biggest concerns is to make knowledge from academia accessible to all people and organizations.

Dr Aleida Mendes Borges leads the Grassroots Women Leaders research stream at GIWL King's College. Her research offers critical perspectives on grassroots organising and politics, women’s rights, representation and participation, diaspora political participation and youth politics in the Global South (Africa & Latin America). Aleida is a jurist by training, specialising in International Public Law (Human Rights), occasionally consulting as country-expert for Cabo Verde. Aleida leads the Internship Programme at GIWL and is the SSPP representative on the Research Staff Representative Committee (RSRC). She has authored several reports and publications in peer-reviewed edited collections, journals in English and Portuguese and is currently co-editing a volume focusing on the global impact of lockdowns (Routledge). Aleida has taught modules including Digital Politics, Social and Political Analysis of Emerging Economies, and Digital Research Methods.

Updated:  17 March 2023/Responsible Officer:  Institute Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications