Over the last two years PEP has worked with African Centre for Cities to produce two high quality booklets which illustrate the lived experiences and histories of residents in the Ruo Emoh and Hazeldean housing projects. The research (and subsequent booklet) is based on a carefully designed, community responsible research methodology that avoids the extraction of knowledge for mere academic purposes.
In the extract from the Hazeldean booklet below, Professor Sophie Oldfield and Noah Schermbrucker, from PEP, elaborate on the how to craft an ethical and accountable research process:
The key challenge or risk of this type of engagement is best summed up in the sentence: “After that, how am I going to benefit from what you are doing”. PEP has invested much time, thought and effort into negotiating a “fair” research process. In fact this was the most important part of the entire studio process. For PEP “fair” is not defined by the vague idea that the engagement will “contribute to knowledge or policy”-even though these types of justifications are popular with students they have no basis in the lived reality of Hazeldean residents and should be discarded. In other words 117 they may be useful for the academic
project but have no practical value for Hazeldean residents. For PEP “fair” should be practically defined. In the case of Hazeldean translators were financially compensated for their services – as would be the case in any job. In addition all those interviewed receive framed photographs and copies of the final document. Furthermore it was arranged for the translators to participated in a career guidance workshop at UCT. These are very real and practical compensations for the work undertaken.
A key element is the sharing of the presentations and narratives from interviews with our Hazeldean Partners and with PEP, this ethos of accounting for what we heard and how we write up this work. For instance, our partners in Hazeldean and PEP colleagues attending our presentations on campus is a methodology through which students engage and account for their analysis and findings. We also share and check the narratives residents so that they can engage with and approve the stories that will go into this book, which we produce as a final element of the project. The book is another critical, layer for accounting for sharing and ground-truthing our work.
Please find below links to each booklet – available for free download.
Building Houses Bit-by-Bit
Ruo Emoh: Our Home, Our Story