Community Members as Facilitators: Reclaiming Community-Based Research as Inherently of the People

Main Article Content

José Wellington Sousa


This article aims to rethink the positionality of community in community-based research collaboration and advocate the need for community members to facilitate CBR processes to counter power imbalances in community-university engagement. I reflect on my lived experience as a community-based facilitator through a feminist post-structural lens focused on the interplay between concepts such as subjectivity, margin-centre and performativity. I argue that, despite the community-engaged scholarship egalitarian ideal, university-community engagement still echoes the old researcher-researched binary in which academics remain the hegemonic pole. In addition, as a medium of power/knowledge, the university fabricates the community and its marginality. Thus, a margin-centre relationship is established, in which community groups must claim their marginality to receive a share of the centre (the university), such as research skills and information. In these margin-centre dynamics, university and community can be understood as identities and subject positions to be taken up by individuals. In essence, these positions are expressions of regulatory power that normalises subjectivities, a condition in which individuals exist as subjects in the social space. Insights from the work of Judith Butler lead to the understanding that, in order to conceive community members as CBR facilitators, normalised and stabilised binary identities (university-community) should be unsettled. This entails individuals who are subjected as ‘the community’ to escape subjection by moving towards recognition of a subjectivity that is not prescribed or is still marginalised within the discourse. In escaping subjection, community groups may exercise power in order to establish new power relations in which CBR becomes more community-led, yet still collaborative.

Article Details

Research articles (Refereed)