Davis, Dána-Ain. "Collaboration: Provocation." Correspondences, Cultural Anthropology website, September 26, 2016.



Contributed date

July 3, 2018 - 4:47pm

Critical Commentary

Abstract: Collaborative research instantiates an us in a world of rampant individualism. It can also mean that researchers and our interlocutors hold one another accountable in ways that may undermine the uneven power dynamics in research projects. Collaboration is one way to upend antagonistic research practices and neoliberal impulses that privatize knowledge production, pushing aside social justice.  

This does not mean, however, that collaborative research is a sure path to harmony or justice. Indeed, rarely are collaborative projects easy. Tensions arise, and this unease has led me ask: what are the limits of collaboration? Are there pressure points impelling us to replicate power dynamics and hierarchies, however inadvertently? In what follows, I want to reflect on three of these limits: divisiveness, arrogant interventions, and endings.