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De-centring academic expertise: The politics of knowledge production and social transformation

The ways academics engage with (marginalised ) communities and explore sensitive topics are guided by research paradigms, human research ethical committees, and university prerogatives. This advice and guidance has generated research practices that can be experienced as alienating and position ‘research subjects’ in ways that are contrary to the epistemological, ethical beliefs and political expectations of the communities being ‘researched’. Sharing power to guide and conduct research means taking seriously calls from postcolonial activists and theorists to transcend western-centric methods of knowledge production. It also requires greater attention to the demand ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’, by disability activists, the queer assertion ‘We are the Experts on Homosexuality,’ and similar claims by socially marginalised groups.

Community engaged research practices and participatory methodologies are promoted as ways to establish a common purpose and collectively work toward social change. But there is no one-size-fits all model. Contestations over the purpose of research, whose knowledge is valued, and the way findings are used to drive social change are inevitable. Finding ways to work together, navigating ethical tensions and overcoming points of difference requires careful attention to the affective, ethical, and relational dimensions of participatory research. Transcending seemingly insurmountable obstacles within the participatory turn requires, in Donna Haraway’s words, staying with the ‘trouble’ and moving toward sym-poiesis, a process of making with.

Within this symposium, we want to consider how difference and uncertainty within research relationships can be productive forces for change. Audre Lorde, for instance, memorably called for methods of social change via the development of new tools for relating across difference. If we are to 'know differently', following Claire Hemmings, embodiment and affective responses must be central to the research frame. 'Affective dissonance,' within this view, is productive and can facilitate social transformation and promote 'affective solidarity'. Rather than promoting solutions (as if such an answer exists), we invite attendees to explore the complexity of research politics and practices, and consider ways to transcend the power dynamics that currently instantiate who, what, where, when, and how research occurs. Thinking through how we collectively work at the intersection of the university, community, and government navigate competing imperatives to develop projects, conduct research and produce transformative outputs is thus essential to the project of social justice.

Event Details

Date: 4-5 December 2023
University of Melbourne, Parkville Campus
Please note this Symposium will be a Hybrid event
Includes morning tea & lunch on both days and afternoon tea on day one.

*Note: Registrations close 23 November 2023

Ticket Type    Cost 
 TASA Member - Waged     $100
 TASA Member - Casual/unwaged/postgrad  $45
 TASA Member - One Day  $30
 TASA Member - Online Registration  $0
 Non Member - Waged  $120
 Non Member - Lived expert / low wage  $45
 Non Member - One Day   $45
 Non Member - Online Registration $0

** Details of TASA membership costs and options are available on the TASA Website

Keynote Speakers

Associate Professor Crystal McKinnon is an Amangu Yamatji historian, critical Indigenous studies scholar and community organiser located in Melbourne University’s School of Social and Political Science. Her work explores Indigenous sovereignty, justice and law, and Indigenous social movements, resistance and protest. Crystal is the co - editor of Aboriginal History journal and her most recent work is published in The Cambridge World History of Genocide (2023), Sovereignty: A Global Perspective -British Academy (2022), Biography (2020), and Decolonization of Criminology and Justice (2022). She has previously worked in the Aboriginal community organisation and the community legal centre sectors, including at Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) and Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women’s Service. She is a co-founder and board of director of Pay the Rent and is currently also a director on the boards of VALS, Pay the Rent and Koori Pride Victoria and sits on the steering committees of the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women and Dhadjowa Foundation

Nadia Mattiazzo has over 30 years’ experience working in the disability advocacy sector. She has experience in community development, individual and systemic advocacy and has managed both state and federally funded programs. Nadia is currently CEO of Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV), the peak organisation for and of women with disabilities in Victoria and has previously been CEO of Blind Citizens Australia. WDV’s mission is to advance real social and economic inclusion for women with disabilities in Victoria.
In her leadership role at WDV, Nadia works continuously to raise the profile of ‘lived experience’ being understood as a valuable source of knowledge in education and systemic advocacy. Nadia’s vision is a world where all women are respected and can fully experience life. Nadia supports the empowerment of women with disabilities and an extensive ‘experts by experience’ program. WDV delivers training to external bodies which covers responding to and preventing family violence and increasing access to health services such as hospitals and community health centres. Nadia also represents WDV on a number of advisory groups relating directly to the prevention and response to family violence.

Symposium Convenors

TASA Emotions & Affect Thematic Group co-convenors: Nicholas Hill, Maree Martinussen, Matt Wade, and Maddison Sideris and in coming 2024 convenor Belinda Johnson

TASA Critical Disabilities Studies Thematic Group co-convenors: Ryan Thorneycroft and Diana Piantedosi

TASA Applied Sociology Thematic Group Convenor: Sophie Hickey

This event is delivered by The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) Emotions and Affect, Critical Disability Studies and Applied Sociology
Thematic Groups. Hosted by University of Melbourne’s School of Social and Political Sciences.

Monday, December 4, 2023, 8:00 AM until Tuesday, December 5, 2023, 5:00 PM E. Australia Time (UTC+10:00)
University of Melbourne
Parkville Campus
Parkville, VIC  3000

Additional Info:
Event Contact(s):
Maree H Martinussen
Penny Toth
Thematic Group Events
Registration is required
Payment In Full In Advance Only
No Fee
No Fee