Telling stories: Exploring research storytelling as a meaningful approach to knowledge mobilization with Indigenous research collaborators and diverse audiences in community-based participatory research

A growing number of geographers seek to communicate their research to audiences beyond the academy. Community-based and participatory action research models have been developed, in part, with this goal in mind. Yet despite many promising developments in the way research is conducted and disseminated, researchers continue to seek methods to better reflect the “culture and context” of the communities with whom they work. During my doctoral research on homelessness in the Northwest Territories, I encountered a significant disconnect between the emotive, personal narratives of homelessness that I was collecting and more conventional approaches to research dissemination. In search of a method of dissemination to engage more meaningfully with research collaborators as well as the broader public, I turned to my creative writing work. In this article, I draw from “The komatik lesson” to discuss my first effort at research storytelling. I suggest that research storytelling is particularly well suited to community-based participatory research, as we explore methods to present findings in ways that are more culturally appropriate to the communities in which the research takes place. This is especially so in collaborative research with Indigenous communities, where storytelling and knowledge sharing are often one and the same. However, I also discuss the ways in which combining my creative writing interests with my doctoral research has been an uneasy fit, forcing me to question how to tell a good story while giving due diligence to the role that academic research has played in its development. Drawing on the outcomes and challenges I encountered, I offer an understanding of what research storytelling is, and how it might be used to advance community-based participatory research with Indigenous communities.

Publication Date: 
April 12, 2012
Journal Name: 
The Canadian Geographer