Second Workshops on Research Methodology and Ethics by pnx67864


									           Third Annual Workshops on Research Methodology and Ethics
                  Shrcc/Ford Project Diaspora Islam and Gender
                               August 7-21st, 2004
                        York University, Toronto Ontario

For its 3rd Annual Educational/Training Workshops on Research Methodology and
Ethics, the Ford/SSHRC project, Diaspora Islam and Gender (DIG), hosted a delegation
of 14 students, scholars and community workers from Palestine and Jordan. For two
weeks in August, delegates led by Dr. Fadwa Labadi participated in workshops which
grappled with issues of gender and family relations and the foundations of research
methodology and ethics, as well as policy development and intervention in regard to
family relations and spousal violence.

Participants met daily in Atkinson‟s Harry Leith room for two 3-hour workshops. The
workshops ranged from general treatments of research and methodology, to more esoteric
examinations of particular case studies and specific databases. An overview of
comparative and systematic methodological approaches to research was offered by Dr.
Saeed Rahnema of York University, a co-investigator of DIG project. Dr.Wendy Cukier
(Ryerson University) provided participants the opportunity to share their own research
interests in a seminar format, and implemented two full workshops for an introduction to
research methods. Michelle Lowry, Senior Research Assistant of the DIG Project and
Dr. Marianne Vardalos, the project‟s Executive Coordinator, presented introductions to
Feminist Research and Feminist Methodology, respectively, contextualizing these within
preceding discussions of methodology. Another introduction was that of Prof. Abbie
Bakan from the Queen‟s University, whose workshop comprised of a preamble on
Women in Development in both theory and practice.

Such broad introductory workshops were balanced with more intensive sessions. Prof.
Mark Goodman, the second project co-investigator, gave a detailed presentation of the
methodology used in the DIG project. His co-presenters, Behzad Ghotb, Input Team
Coordinator, and Michelle Lowry, spoke of the specific phases of data collection which
they oversee.

Afsaneh Hojabri, the Project Coordinator for Montreal, shared touching details of the life
histories unearthed during oral interviews, revealing the humanity encountered in the
research process. Salam Hamdan, formerly of Al Quds University and now working for
the Palestinian National Authority, highlighted the challenges of conducting research for
the DIG project while under occupation. Another case study included a workshop
presented by Dr. Farhad Nomani (American University of Paris), who presented evidence
of women‟s increased economic marginalization after the Iranian revolution and
predicted similar outcomes for other secular nations experiencing an escalation in
reactionary religiosity.

Dr. Susan Babbitt (Queen‟s University), an associate of the DIG project, offered a
thought-provoking workshop on ethical issues in research and the question of meta-
ethical considerations implicit in cross-cultural and inter-cultural research. Such ethical
issues permeated many other discussions addressing the human condition and the
imperative to ameliorate it by asking the question “better for whom?”

An emerging theme over the two-week period was that of redefinition, the need to
reconsider concepts that have become appropriated by the status quo. Yves Savoie of the
Toronto Family Services Association (FSA) deconstructed the notions of „community‟
and „civil society‟ in an era of mass accumulation and „tied aid‟. As well, York‟s Fahim
Quadir, in his workshops titled Redefining ‘Development’ in the New Millennium &
Learning from the People: Critical Issues and Concepts in Developmental Research,
problematized the terms „development‟ and „progress‟ as deeply rooted in colonialism
and imperialism. Hanadi Loubani challenged the efficacy of NGOs and the Women‟s
Movement in Palestine by citing the everyday-lived resistances of women as more
effectual than most organized efforts. As well, Fereshte Ghashghai challenged the various
acronyms used by NGOs to differentiate themselves from the private sector and delineate
their special role in development initiatives.

In addition to the conceptual and theoretical topics introduced by researchers were
pragmatic themes of family violence and NGO management. In the workshop titled
Domestic Violence: Policy & Practice in Canada, Parvin Samadzadeh and Soheila
Pashang of Toronto‟s Family Services Association (FSA) gave concrete examples of the
challenges faced by new immigrants in unfamiliar power-relations and how these often
lead to an increase in domestic violence. As well, John Shields of Ryerson University
spoke about the increasing dependence of the state on non-governmental organizations to
implement social programs like those offered by the FSA. Jehad Aliweiwi, former
President of the Arab Federation and a valued DIG associate in the community, rounded
off the workshops by speaking of the specific case of Palestinian immigrants in Canada
and his personal experience in the diaspora.

The delegation‟s introduction to York University incorporated a campus tour which
included greetings from Carol Irving of York International, Rosalyn Reid of the VP
Research & Innovation's Office, and Deanna Santos from the Centre for Human Rights.
The delegates also got a look at the Senate Chamber and the observatory by night. Nerina
Femia and others working at the York English Language Institute organized a number of
interesting tours including a trip to the CN tower, City Hall, a Blue Jays game and a
memorable bus tour to Niagara Falls.

The delegation was also hosted by the wider community beginning with a Welcome
Reception organized by the volunteers of The Palestine House Educational and Cultural
Centre (a non-profit organization). Established in June 1992, the center serves as an
educational, social and cultural centre to the Palestinian community and to all Canadians
at large. As well, the Palestinian Solidarity Organization, led by Sara Karmi, planned an
afternoon Meet & Greet at High Park which brought together the delegation with
Palestinians living in Toronto. A coalition of student groups hosted a picnic on the Vari
Hall greens to introduce the participants to the various associations on campus committed
to social and cultural understanding and an appreciation of difference. Finally, the DIG
project hosted a Farewell Dinner to honour the workshop participants and organizers.
The workshops were greatly successful and enlightening, providing a forum in which
views, perspectives and experiences could be exchanged in a respectful manner. There is
great promise that the participants will return to their home countries and incorporate the
knowledge they acquired during their visit. By the same token, the facilitators of the
workshops felt indebted to the participants whose experiences, imagination and
constructive zest added an unforgettable intellectual vitality to the York campus for the
two weeks of their visit.

To top