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Friday, June 9 • 3:35pm - 3:55pm
Taking time as intergenerational activist making: Storying activisms in Nogojiwanong (Peterborough, Ontario)

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In this paper, I will critically reflect on the shifting intergenerational activist storytelling methodology of my program of research, Aging Activisms. I argue that this kind of community-based research methodology requires taking time in a way that can intervene in capitalist-colonial institutional expectations and generate subversive research practices.
Between 2015 and 2019, my program of research, Aging Activisms, hosted seven intergenerational arts-based and storytelling gatherings as part of a multi-year digital storytelling research project, called Stories of Resistance, Resurgence, and Resilience in Nogojiwanong, based at Trent University in Nogojiwanong (Peterborough, Canada), in Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg territory. Aiming to document an oral history of activisms and activist connections in place, this project centers the stories and creative making of activists who are racialized, Indigenous, gender diverse, LGBTQ2IA+, and/or disabled, recognizing that such activists are most often omitted from scholarly archives.We bring together such diverse groups of artists, activists, and organizers to foster collaborative making: making counter-normative art; making relations and communities; and making resistant, resurgent, and sovereign stories. Specifically, the project involves participatory media-making as well as various arts practices, some of which emerge in dialogue with participants’ themselves: making zines, performance pieces, art installations, collage, poetry, and music. This project explicitly aims to explore and document the lesser-told stories of non-famous activists and to unsettle dominant perceptions of "activism" as limited to processes of "un-making" (dismantling, resisting, exposing) oppressions through protest or rally. Instead, we invite activists of different ages, backgrounds, abilities and genders to also consider activist ways of "making" (through creative work, land-based practices, and ceremony) different, fairer, more sustainable futures. My work with Aging Activisms, then, is largely about intervening in dominant capitalist, colonial, ableist understandings of aging and activism, while co-creating interwoven stories, media, and art of activist pasts and alternative futures.

We are, in particular, striving to do this work of making together differently than it is sometimes done in mainstream academic research and in university-led artful practices; in a way that reverberates respect, accountability, care, trust, and reciprocity. These processes are complicated and highly charged; among other things, a focus on building relationships of/as resistance and attending to community care takes enormous time. I situate taking time in art-based research as intervention into capitalist-colonial-ableist institutional structures and consent processes, recognizing that participants in this work occupy marginalized social locations vis-à-vis these structures. I also situate taking time as a process of creation of anti-capitalist/decolonial/crip relationships, knowledges, research practices, worlds, possibilities, and futurities; a way of making together, with or without material remains.

In this piece, I explore our ever-shifting methodology over the course of this project, highlighting a series of interventions offered by participants. These interventions collectively took time, and in so doing, exposed the complex forces at play in the university setting. These interventions indeed precipitated a shift in the research tempo, a recentring of our many different bodies, a renegotiation of power dynamics among us, and a change in the materialities of our making. In my analysis of these shifts, I consider the ways in which time can operate as a normalizing capitalist/colonial/ableist force even in critical arts-based research; at the same time, I also hint at how taking time to make together differently, even within the ongoing constraints, might offer generative and ‘reworlding’ research practices (Carter, Recollet, and Robinson, 2018) towards generating alternative ways of being, knowing, and relating outside of existing structures.


May Chazan

Associate Professor, Trent University

Friday June 9, 2023 3:35pm - 3:55pm EDT
PS 401 (Design Center)