Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Michelle Fine

Subject Categories

Epistemology | Social Psychology


Action Research; Collaborative Ethics; Decolonial Ethics; Participatory Action Research; Research Ethics


Participatory Action Research (PAR) refers less to a method and more to a continuum of approaches to collaborative inquiry. Within PAR, ideally, some phenomenon has been identified as a mutual area of concern to researchers and community members; working together they design, conduct, analyze, and disseminate the findings of a shared piece of research and coordinate action(s) aimed at using research to redress injustice. If PAR is embraced holistically boundaries inevitably blur as research team members become enmeshed in each other's lives. This blurring while momentous can give rise to ethical quandaries that IRB centered research ethics are inadequate to engage or provide parameters for the conduct of ethical participatory research. Borrowing from Borderlands scholarship I conceptualized PAR stakeholders as nepantleras. PAR researchers and their community partners are nepantleras because their work is about unremittingly trying to co-create and co-nurture counter-hegemonic research relationships bridging racial, ethnic, cultural, and social class boundaries within their collaborations. Nepantla perspectives give rise to Ubuntu ethical stances. Ubuntu ethics involves evaluation(s) of how our PAR builds capacity, sustains transparency of project aims, gauges accountability, assesses inclusivity, demonstrates trustworthiness, and the preservation of dignity at each stage of the research process. Using individual interviews and a longitudinal de-colonial ethnography of a community based ethical review board this dissertation attempted to understand how different nepantleras define the parameters of ethical conduct in research. In some ways I have accomplished this aim. I am in other respects left with the sobering realization that conducting ethical participatory research that embraces nepantla and Ubuntu ethics while working within the confines of conventional ethics is more difficult to conduct than I could have possibly imagined.