Testimonial Cultures is an action research and knowledge mobilization project. From the action research perspective, identifying problems is not enough: collaborating with community groups to address them is also necessary. To this end, the research group includes both academic researchers and community partners.
Our methods include the development of an interpretive community, content and discourse analysis, and consultation with people who have given testimonials in various contexts.
As an interpretive community, project partners and other contributors play an active role in the collective interpretation of issues and research data.
The project also incorporates archival methods, interpretive methods, and approaches from the field of oral history that allow a range of activities to be undertaken:
- Development of a public exhibition
- Co-productions (compilations of video testimonials, The Megaphone, public presentations)
- Testimonial archives
- Individual interviews with people who have given testimonials
- Study days
- Examination of ethical issues
These methods allow community members and researchers to collaborate in studying the various contexts of testimonial production and reception as well as the conditions that are required to make use of testimonials for social and cultural intervention. They also provide the occasion to work on action strategies aimed at positive change greater social inclusion for sexual and gender minorities.
Research axis and advisory committees
The scientific program has several main axes of research. Here is a burst of reflection projects that we have led and that are currently driving us:
- Competing personal stories
- Visibility, digital practices, and ethical issues
- Democracy, inclusion, and recognition
- Privacy, denominational society, and pornography
- Representations of sexuality
Four committees meet in order to develop activities and deepen reflections on several general and specific questions.
- Committee on the testimonials of sexual and gender minorities
- Committee on the testimonials of people living with HIV/Aids
- Committee on the testimonials of people with sex work experience
- Committee on oral history and digital storytelling
- Steering committee of the exhibition Témoigner pour Agir
- Committee of wise persons of the exhibition Témoigner pour Agir
Testimonial Cultures is based on a democratic governance structure in which all partners have equal representation on working committees and in decision-making (via the project’s general assembly). For researchers and community workers who have occasionally collaborated in the past, the project provides an opportunity to share experiences and expertise on a more regular basis and undertake projects and activities. All partners have signed a partnership agreement that they were actively involved in developing and that defines and guides collaboration by members of the research group.