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What is a mutual aid research collective?

Photo by Liz Koslov.

The Superstorm Research Lab is a mutual aid research collective. Mutual aid is characterized by solidarity, or fellowship arising from common responsibilities and interests, and reciprocity, or mutual exchange, with fellow researchers and research participants. We have a non-hierarchical, cooperative decision-making organization where members elect to help one another achieve their goals.

A mutual aid model does not only seek to “do no harm,” it also strives to reciprocate, to respond, and to cooperate. It takes the processes and practices of research, not only the results, as a place to do meaningful normative work.

SRL is comprised of twelve researchers from different universities working to change the way research is done by using a mutual aid model. Organizationally, we develop mutual aid through the following:

  • we hold weekly meetings with a rotating facilitator (rather than a leader)
  • we make decisions by consensus
  • responsibilities are distributed as evenly as possible, and we have a number of smaller working groups to accomplish tasks
  • we hold skill shares to help one another develop professionally
  • our interns are full group members and are compensated equally
  • we hold regular “salons” with other researchers to build research community
  • we support one another in taking breaks, stepping back, and otherwise maintaining a healthy work-life balance
  • we write and share grants together

In our research, we develop mutual aid by:

  • collaboratively developing an interview protocol that addresses all our individual research questions, and we all use the protocol so any other member can use our interviews for their own projects
  • our interviews are available under a Creative Commons License, so other researchers outside of SRL can use them as well
  • we co-write as often as possible, including articles authored by the entire group
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2 Comments
  1. liz #

    Reblogged this on recovering tohoku and commented:
    this is an exciting idea.

    January 6, 2014

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