Corridor Talk: Canadian Feminist Scholars Share Stories of Research Partnerships


edited by Rachel Berman

Print: 978-1-926708-70-6
ePUB: 978-1-926708-71-3
PDF: 978-1-771330-91-6
240 Pages
December 01, 2014

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In this collection, the authors illuminate the struggles and the successes encountered in the research partnership process. The authors come from a variety of disciplines, are at various stages of their academic careers, may or may not be part of the academy, adopt a variety of feminist lenses, have a range of research partners, and focus on a range of research topics. However, in keeping with feminist research that highlights “putting the self back into science,” all chapters share a focus on reflexivity, and in particular explore the impact of the research partnership process on the researcher. This “corridor talk,” often inaccessible and considered unimportant, is put at the centre of this feminist collection. Insights and lessons learned are shared, unsolved dilemmas are presented, and recommendations are made.

In the first part of this book, the authors explore the challenges and benefits of engaging in research partnerships between university and community members. The contributions in the second part of the book include a broader definition of partnership, where partners include research participants. Not surprisingly, the emotional component of the research partnership process is often front and centre in all of these discussions, and the role of emotions in the research process is the focus of the first chapter in the collection. This is a book that upper year students, and novice and seasoned researchers will find useful.

 “Each chapter in this book reclaims what is considered ‘corridor talk,’ soft science if not ‘gossip,’ and assigns it to its rightful place in the research process. Contributions give legitimacy to reflexivity, experiential knowledge, participatory action research (PAR), an ethics of care, respect, and the importance of the relational and power asymmetries in research. The diversity of research experiences and demographic groups contributes to make this volume an interesting read.”

—Maroussia Hajdukowski-Ahmed, Professor Emeria, Département de français and Graduate Programme of Gender Studies and Feminist Research, McMaster University

Editor/Author Bio:

Rachel Berman earned a Ph.D. in Family Studies at the University of Guelph in 2000. Prior to joining the School of Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson University, Toronto, that same year, she taught feminist research methods courses at York University and McMaster University. She currently teaches courses on social research with children, theoretical frameworks for early childhood studies, and families and educational equity. She has been involved in a variety of research partnerships and has published in the areas of methods of inquiry, mothering, and perspectives of children and youth.

Contributing Author Bios:

Charlotte Caron is an independent scholar. She recently served as Acting Principal, Centre for Christian Studies, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Whisper Chase was fortunate enough to be selected to contribute to the cihr Project alongside the inspirational Dr. Dell and her dream team of researchers while pursuing her ma in Sociology at Carleton University,  Upon completing her degree and her research position, she relocated to South Korea to teach English. After calling Korea home for over three years, she has relocated to Portland, Oregon, with her husband. There she is pursuing her career in Human Resources and continues to give voices to those who struggle to be heard.

Colleen Anne Dell is an Associate Professor and Research Chair in Substance Abuse at the University of Saskatchewan in the Department of Sociology and School of Public Health. She is also a Senior Research Associate with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Canada’s national addictions agency. Her research is grounded in a community-based participatory approach. Her research interests include the relationship between identity and healing from drug addiction, substance abuse programming, self-harm among women and girls, the connection between youth resiliency and inhalant abuse, and equine-assisted learning as a healing approach to addictions. Her research areas are specific to Aboriginal populations, criminalized women and drug  using populations. She has worked extensively at the community and national levels, including with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba and the Senate of Canada.

Sheila Grantham’s spirit name is Little Flower. She is currently in the Carleton-Trent Ph.D. program in Canadian Studies and works part- time as the Academic Liaison within the Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education. Some of her interests involve research on homelessness, Indigenous methodologies and activist work related to creating inclusive spaces for Indigenous students within post-secondary institutions.

Rozmin Jaffer completed her doctoral degree in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary. Her feminist research focused on how power, knowledge and subjectivity constitute the relationship between identities of women of colour educators and their Anti-Racist pedagogy. Her doctoral work entailed observing and conversing with women of color educators with respect to their pedagogical experiences. Her Master’s degree is in International development. Her Master’s thesis interrogated the role of Western Medicine in a developing country such as India. The role of Indigenous medicine in women’s lives was examined. Her research was done from a Postmodern Feminist standpoint. She is currently teaching courses at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, in the Faculty of Teaching and Learning.

Jennifer M. Kilty’s primary area of research interest is criminalized women, their experiences of incarceration and reintegration, their adoption of self-harming behaviours, and their construction as “violent,” “dangerous” and/or “risky.” Drawing on theories of identity, much of her work is based on discussions of rights and an ethics of care, and is framed by a prison abolitionist standpoint. She is an Assistant Professor in Criminology and the Social Science of Health at the University of Ottawa.

Ann H. Kim is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at York University. She has published in the areas of racial and ethnic residential integration, international migration and Korean-Canadian studies. Her current research focuses on Korean transnationalism, immigrant seniors, and community-academic research partnerships.

Katharine King is a community researcher, psychotherapist, and Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at York University. She has done community based research with homeless youth, seniors, and newcomers. Her main areas of interest are qualitative research methods, gender, poverty, and the life course.

Lawrence Lam is an Associate Professor in Sociology at York University. His research expertise includes migration and social relations. His most significant research contribution has been related to the development of collective identity embodied in the reconstituted refugee communities. His work has addressed the applicability of relevant sociology theory in general, and migration theories in particular, to refugee studies and has taken a critical stance regarding discursive practices in Canada regarding refugees and immigrants.

Debra Langan worked for six years with the Correctional Services Division of the Solicitor General’s Department, Alberta Provincial Government, first as a Probation Officer in Rocky Mountain House, and Red Deer, and on the Sunchild/O’Chiese and Big Horn reserves, and then as a Caseworker and Substance Abuse Educator in a minimum-security Correctional Centre in Edmonton before completing her doctorate in Sociology at York University. At York she focused on interpretive and postmodern theories and their application in qualitative analyses of issues related to violence against women. She also worked collaboratively on community-engaged participatory research and on the development and implementation of community protocols to improve criminal justice, medical, and social service responses to violence against women. Her current research trajectories include investigations of women’s and men’s experiences of, and police responses to, verbal violence; new media forms of verbal violence (e.g., Facebook, Instant Messaging); and community policing. She is currently a member of Criminology Department at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Meg Luxton is a Professor and former Director of the Graduate Program in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies, at York University. Her research investigates sex/gender divisions of labour and their implications for the socio-economic situations of women and men across class, race/ethnicity and region. It explores the changing ways “ordinary people” in Canada make a living and sustain themselves, their households, families and communities. It exposes the work involved in unpaid domestic labour and shows its relationship to the larger economy. It studies the interactions among markets, states, communities and households and how they produce and reproduce gender, race/ethnicity and class relations, especially as these are developing in the context of global neoliberalism. She has also contributed to theorizing feminist political economy, social reproduction and how to conceptualize the relations among gender, class, racialisation, ethnicity and other systemic inequalities. Dr. Luxton also works with feminist organizations and unions, documenting a range of organizing efforts such as union women in non-traditional jobs, workers organizing in unions and in their communities, wives supporting their husbands’ unions during strikes, links between the labour movement and the women’s movement.

Tara Lyons is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the British Columbia Centre of Excellence in hiv/aids working in the areas of gender, violence and hiv/aids. She is a prison justice and drug policy activist. For her Ph.D. thesis in Sociology, which she completed at Carleton University, Tara conducted a two-year ethnography in Ottawa’s Drug Treatment Court to challenge the dominant conceptualizations of addiction and to propose alternatives to drug prohibition and its related treatment practices.

Nancy Mandell is a Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at York University. She has published on a variety of topics including midlife women’s experiences of intimacy and family; gendered social capital; parental involvement in children’s schoolwork; the feminization of poverty; and globalization and transnational aging, Her most recent sshrc project examines economic security among senior Canadian immigrants.

Mavis Morton focuses in the areas of violence against women, women and the law, feminist critical criminology, justice and social policy, feminist participatory action research and evaluation research, public sociology and community based learning/service learning. Her previous work includes twenty years with rural and urban community partners (advocates, community committees, criminal justice and social service organizations and government) engaging in research, education, community development, advocacy and service coordination on issues related to violence against women and their children and other social justice issues. She is a member of the Department of Criminal Justice and Public Policy at the University of Guelph in Guelph Ontario.

Valerie Preston is a Professor of Geography at York University where she studies the geographies of international migration. Her research examines the social inequalities associated with gender, ethnicity, race, and immigrant status in contemporary cities.

Anita Sinner is an Assistant Professor of Art Education at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. Her research interests include pre-service and in-service teacher education, community-based art education, arts-based methods, life and light writing and digital media.  As an artist, researcher and teacher, Anita brings interdisciplinary perspectives to research involving qualitative approaches and visual and literary arts practice, in relation to curriculum studies and social and cultural issues in education. Anita has co-edited a literary anthology with Christine Lowther, Writing the West Coast: In Love With Place (2008).

Si Transken earned her doctorate in Equity Studies from the University of Toronto and is currently teaching in the Department of Social Work and Women’s Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia. Her areas of research include criminal harassment, incest, sexual assault, violence against women expressive arts therapy, feminist social work, anti-racism, mediation, sexual expressions and identities. In her private practice, Trans/Formative Services brings women into her life who are courageous, tenacious, and clawing their way through the pain that patriarchy, classism, heterosexism, and many other ugly oppressions dropped onto their lives. In her private practice she assists women struggling with sexual abuse issues, violence, eating disorders, depression. Together with her clients she attempts to fully reclaim women’s hope, creativity, vision, and empowerment. When Si facilitates workshops on women’s issues she likes to leave them laughing, colouring, drawing, singing, playing because they already know how to suffer.

Vappu Tyyskä is Professor of Sociology, and Director of the ma Program in Immigration and Settlement at Ryerson University. Her research looks at immigrant women, families, and youth, including projects on immigrant women’s English language proficiency; inter-generational relations in immigrant families; and family violence in immigrant communities. Her work has been published in Women’ Health and Urban Life: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal; ceris Working Paper Series, Canadian Ethnic Studies, and Canadian Diversity/Diversité canadienne. She is author of Youth and Society: The Long and Winding Road (3rd ed.) (2014) and editor of Action and Analysis: Readings in Sociology of Gender (2006).

Natalie Weiser is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at York University.  Her main areas of interest are sociology of religion, social psychology, theories of identity and qualitative research methods.

Melissa Autumn White is Faculty Lecturer of Women’s Studies at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at McGill University. Prior to joining McGill, she taught gender and women’s studies and human geography at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. Her Ph.D. in Women’s Studies was awarded by York University in 2011, and was followed by a sshrc Postdoctoral Research Fellowship taken up at Syracuse University and nyu’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. She left her full-time position with Canada Post in 2009.

Fiona Whittington-Walsh received her Ph.D in Sociology at York University in 2010. Her research focuses on the areas of community-academic research partnerships, the cultural industries, disability issues, and the everyday experiences of women and body image. She has published in the areas of disability and health, disability and cinematic representation, beauty and women with disabilities, and women and cosmetic surgery. Her current research is exploring the history of disability representations in mainstream film. She is currently teaching sociology at, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

To review individual chapters please click on the name linked below:


Rachel Berman

Chapter One
Emotional Labour and Feeling Rules in Academic and Community Research Partnerships
Nancy Mandell and Katharine King

Chapter Two
Reflecting on Community/Academic “Collaboration”:  The Challenge of “Doing” Feminist Participatory Action Research
Debra Langan and Mavis Morton

Chapter Three
Researching with Respect:  The Contributions of Feminist, Aboriginal and Community-Based Research Approaches to the Development  of our Study of First Nations Women’s Healing from Problematic Drug Use
Colleen Anne Dell, Tara Lyons, Sheila Grantham, Jennifer M. Kilty and Whisper Chase

Chapter Four
A Critical Reflection on the use of Translators/Interpreters in a Qualitative Cross-Language Research Project
Rachel Berman and Vappu Tyyskä

Chapter Five
Decolonizing Research Initiations: Reflections on and from the “Feminist Field”
Melissa Autumn White

Chapter Six
Building Bridges Across Sectors: A Resource to Help Create Community and Academic Research Partnerships
Nancy Mandell and Fiona Whittington-Walsh

Chapter Seven
Building Bridges with Senior Immigrant Groups: Do cap Protocols Work?
Nancy Mandell, Katharine King, Natalie Weiser, Valerie Preston, Larry Lam, Ann Kim, and Meg Luxton

Chapter Eight
A Witness to Loss
Charlotte Caron

Chapter Nine
Liminal Spaces of Feminist Research
Rozmin Jaffer

Chapter Ten
Unfolding Stories: Reflecting on the Process of Doing Research
Anita Sinner

Chapter Eleven
Feminist Research/ers, Longitudinal Multilocationality, Money: How Many Ways Can This Hurt?
Si Transken

Contributor Notes

1 review for Corridor Talk: Canadian Feminist Scholars Share Stories of Research Partnerships

  1. InannaWebmaster

    Writing Stories and Producing Knowledge
    Rachel Berman (Editor)
    Corridor Talk: Canadian Feminist Scholars Share Stories of Research Partnerships. Inanna
    R. H. Slansky (Author)
    Moss-Haired Girl: Confessions of a Circus Performer by Zara Zalinzi. Anvil Press
    Reviewed by Sarah MacKenzie


    Though disparate in genre, the texts under review are directly connected by their engagements with and elaborations upon the role of reflexivity—and general emotional involvement—in investigative processes (personal or professional), as well as their considerations of the creation and delivery of narratives. It is no surprise that R. H. Slansky grew up in a family of travelling circus performers. Indeed, her first novel, the 72-page Moss-Haired Girl: Confessions of a Circus Performer, is clearly derived from an in-depth understanding of carnivalesque performance. The book—a captivating read—details protagonist Joshua Chapman’s search to uncover the truth concerning the life story of circus performer Zara Zalinzi, the “Moss-Haired Girl.” Joshua, while sorting through the belongings of his recently deceased mother, discovers Zalinzi’s autobiography. Struggling to separate fact from fiction in order to update the performer’s narrative, Joshua undertakes a journey through his own family history, eventually coming to question the foundation of folkloric family tales. The novel’s intricate dual narrative—the combined accounts of Zalinzi and Joshua—is, ultimately, a deeply involved, however brief, problematization of the construction of stories and, by extension, knowledge.

    Making a substantial contribution to the growing body of scholarship relating to reflexivity in feminist research and writing, Rachel Berman’s Corridor Talk addresses a number of salient issues pertaining to the forging and maintenance of research partnerships. While notably diverse, the articles included in the timely collection are tethered by a shared focus on the significance of not only reflexivity, but also emotional struggle in feminist work. As indicated by the text’s title, the essays contend most specifically with the informal academic and non-academic relationships that lead to knowledge production. Authored by a range of contributors, from various backgrounds, and working in different fields, the articles examine differing research relationships from varying vantage points. While several authors concern themselves with academic and community partnerships (community-based research “CBR”), others consider those collaborative investigations in which participants also function as researchers in a mode of research known as participatory action research “PAR.”

    Given that such intricate, egalitarian-style investigation is under-theorized in terms of both approach and outcome, the poignant and highly entertaining pieces in Berman’s collection might also be considered roadmaps for future feminist investigators engaging in potentially productive and fulfilling, though necessarily difficult, research partnerships. In the book’s third chapter, for example, Colleen Dell and her colleagues discuss their reflections after working on a “large-scale” study involving racialized—Indigenous/ First Nations—women suffering from addiction problems, along with service providers, and treatment centre directors. In their essay, Dell and her fellow researchers work to assist readers to better understand the reflexivity and emotional labour necessary to conduct truly “respectful research.” Similarly, in chapter four, Berman and her co-author Vappu Tyyskä forewarn that disconcertion surrounding collaborative research may not truly resonate until after a project has been completed. Keeping the socially transformative goal of feminist research in mind, researchers, as Berman argues, may continue to ask themselves for some time after a project’s completion: “whose interests were served anyway?”

    This review “Writing Stories and Producing Knowledge” originally appeared in Emerging Scholars. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 226 (Autumn 2015): 125-26.

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