Research has always been a creative project for me. A site and process where I could blend my commitments to activism, collaboration and passions. Community members, activists and students in the Filipino American communities become collaborators in my projects’ directions and designs instead of objects of study. It has been such meaningful work teaching me more than the findings that end up published. More so because collaborative and participatory research requires so much balancing.
Some times the research process has worked out mutually. Other times, academic questions overstep organizations’ goals. Or organizing timelines don’t line up with research timelines.
So it’s a mess.
But it’s a creative mess.
And I love it.
As an academic, I’m challenged to think about sociological questions from the vantage points of movement building first. And then, I can organize the academic riddle around that.
A part of that riddle is the important and often invisible labor of the students I am honored to work with and learn from. My students who I consider collaborators, comrades and friends have helped me disentangle issues in my research that I probably couldn’t have figured out on my own.
And it is my students, who often belong to the Filipino communities I do research with, that come with innovative and creative solutions to the messes I make. For this I’m grateful. The College of Health and Social Sciences wrote a piece about some of the work I do with Kristal Osorio and Elaika Celemen:
Arjun Appadurai once argued that historically excluded peoples and communities should have a right to participate, design, determine and carry out research for the benefit of their collective power. He wrote, “By this I mean the right to the tools through which any citizen can systematically increase that stock of knowledge which they consider most vital to their survival as human beings” (2006).
My commitment to keeping research a right for my community starts with centering Filipina/x/o lives in my thinking, making visible the “stock of knowledge” we already have. And This right to research is often powered by young people, brilliant students and scholars in their own right.