Difficult conversations: A feminism and methodology workshop with Róisín Ryan-Flood
Laura Favaro’s reflections on the day
As part of our ongoing series ‘Advanced feminist research methods and skills’, on 15th January Dr Róisín Ryan-Flood (University of Essex) ran a workshop on ‘Difficult Conversations’, which was attended by PhD Students and other Early Career Researchers across the world and different disciplines. Usefully drawing on a diverse range of concrete examples, her presentation covered key principles and dilemmas in research ethics and feminist epistemology, including questions of power, difference and identity, representation, readership and disclosure. Small group discussions were prompted by questions including: ‘How does your research relate to the topic of ‘difficult conversations’ – e.g. what issues are potentially difficult to discuss in relation to your work, or bringing it to a wider audience? How do you practice intersectionality in your research? How are difficult conversations a means of productive transformation and growth?’ The cultural and disciplinary diversity of the group complexified and enriched our reflections about what constitutes difficult conversations and challenging interviews in (feminist) research, along with related issues such as encounters with the media, and how to present in outputs controversial, politically sensitive or intimate material. We were inspired by Róisín’s reminder that ‘Some of the most productive moments in feminism have emerged from difficult conversations’, and look forward to her forthcoming edited book by Routledge with Isabel Crowhurst and Laurie James-Hawkins, Difficult Conversations: A feminist dialogue.