Restorative Validity: Exploring How Critical Participatory Inquiry Can Promote Peace, Justice, and Healing



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This dissertation begins with a simple premise: (re)imagining a healing and restorative space for inquiry. Across three manuscripts, the work of a critical participatory inquiry collective—composed of Kaqchikel Maya community members and nonprofit staff in Guatemala, and a university-affiliated researcher—is examined as we conceptualized and tested a model: restorative validity. Through our work, we sought to understand how inquiry could be used as a means to reclaim and restore the humanity of researcher and researched alike, and the research process itself. The first manuscript, “How does it feel to be my research problem?: On restorative validity”, reviews how interrelated research orientations—toward relationships, justice, and liberation—are situated across disciplines (e.g., critical theories; research methodology; peace, rights, justice studies). After mapping these concepts, reflexive questions are outlined to guide those interested in addressing potential and real harms in/from inquiry. The second manuscript, “Seeking restoration and healing through inquiry: A visual ethnographic case study in Guatemala” presents co-researchers’ observations of inquiry and its restorative potential. Narratives are supplemented through photographs of our activities, which included community consultations, storytelling, and interactive data collection and analysis techniques. The last manuscript, “Can research heal?: Axiological commitments and methodological obligations as contact zones toward restorative validity”, illuminates co-researchers’ words as counternarratives, flanked against dominant interpretations of methodology, validity, and assumptions on participation and empowerment. In its totality, it is a call to action: That researchers and practitioners create forms of inquiry that seek to heal and restore, rather than simply prove a point.



Axiology, Decolonizing epistemology, Decolonizing methodology, Participatory action research, Participatory methods, Research ethics