Imagination, margins and tacit knowing: Co-producing research during the time of Physical Distancing

Wed, 11 Nov 2020

12:00 - 13:30


Since the COVID-19 lockdown and physical distancing began many of us have been grappling with the challenges and potentials of rethinking co-produced or collaborative ways of working. Physical distancing measures make it harder to develop the trust and quality of relationship needed to work together. At the same time, the pandemic, by challenging traditional ways of doing research, might create new space to question established orders of power, such as academic knowledge (Roy, 2020, Skeggs, 2020). Could this challenge to settled ways of doing co-production also provoke us to imagine new ways of researching together?

This online event brings together on-going dialogues between academics , community organisations and the people and publics they work with to re-imagine what co-production is and what it might become. The event will feature short presentations on different co-production projects and time for group discussion on challenges and opportunities ahead for co-produced research.

Imagination: Co-production is often described using words such as empower, social justice, democracy and equality but these have all been stretched and misappropriated to mean just about anything. James Duggan and Janey Riley from community theatre space Niamos are working to re-think co-production through the lenses and practices of Afrofuturism. This offers a new imagination, where we might, for example, hold onto ideas of being alien and alienation rather than claim we are equals in co-production.

Margins: At a time when our welfare system is under unprecedented pressure and needs rethinking, it is fundamental to include voices too often left unheard. Sonia Bussu, Nigel Allmark and Groundswell will discuss some of the recent projects the London-based charity has delivered during the pandemic. They will explore Groundswell’s research with people with lived experience of homelessness and how this work is helping to create ethical spaces for homeless voices to be heard and contribute to societal change.

Tacit knowledge: Working with families often involves engaging with sensitive and complex family relationships and it is important to be able to account for things that go unsaid or are not fully explicated in words. Abi Hackett will discuss working with museums and galleries and the potential of visual and material methods to access ways of knowing that extend beyond words, during times of physical distancing.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the event is hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University as part of the UK-wide ESRC Festival of Social Science, an annual celebration of the contribution the social sciences make to society.

How to book / contact details:

Book via Eventbrite.
For any enquiries contact Dr James Duggan,

Who is the event for:

We welcome academics, practitioners, activists and members of the public, and anyone with an interest in collaborative and co-produced ways of creating knowledge.


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