Intervention – “Reading Groups as Radical Research Practice”

An interesting collection of reflections on academic reading groups has been published that may be of interest to the members of the HEAT reading group. ‘There is,’ the article points out, ‘relatively little critical reflection on the political significance of reading groups, their practical utility, and the challenges involved.’ Yet they can provide the opportunity to ‘build “creative resistance” in our professional practices’ and ‘(re)engage with our personal and disciplinary insecurities”. For this reason, they might also be understood as providing alternative models of learning, connecting to a ‘wider understanding of pedagogy for empowerment’. Anyone interested in responding to this discussion or reflecting on what works or what could be improved about our own reading group is warmly encouraged to comment at the bottom of this post.

AntipodeFoundation.org

Kelvin Mason, University of Liverpool

Sam Halvorsen, University College London

Kerry Burton, University of the West of England

Introduction

Reading groups represent a common practice both inside and outside the university, and in many cases provide an important space that breaches the divide. Nevertheless, there is relatively little critical reflection on the political significance of reading groups, their practical utility, and the challenges involved. This intervention emerged through an encounter between three UK-based academic-activists, sharing our experiences of “doing reading groups” in and around the university.

Over the last few years, there has been something of a participatory turn in academic geography, with discussions about the potentials of “participatory action research” (Kindon et al. 2007), “militant research” (Shukaitis and Graeber 2007), and “engaging” (Wills 2014), amongst other approaches and themes, including co-production. Many of these discussions have explored the extent to which the university facilitates participatory encounters…

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