Concerned with traditional power imbalances between researchers and participants, contemporary social science has begun using collaborative research as an empowering methodology that involves participants in key decisions. Collaborative research is a potentially revolutionary method for studying people and their cultures, but does it work in practice? Staging Strife looks at the limits of this methodology by examining a politically charged theatre performance undertaken with a group of Roma women in Poland. Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston describes a production she co-wrote and co-directed using collaborative methods. She had hoped this would result in more equitable research and raise community awareness about the violence and racism Roma women face. Instead, she found herself embroiled in ethically questionable power games in order to salvage the production. Staging Strife is the result of a painful re-examination of the experience, her motives as a researcher, and a long-overdue critique of collaborative research. Disarmingly honest, this exploration of innovative theatre techniques and social science methodologies will lead anthropologists to rethink the ways in which they work.
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