Joanna Wheeler - Research Fellow
Participation Power and Social Change
T: +44 (0)1273 915734
Central and South Asia; Latin America and the Caribbean; Sub Saharan Africa.
I am a research fellow in the Participation, Power and Social Change team. Over the past 15 years, I have worked consistently with a commitment to increasing the voice of those less heard—whether women’s roles as citizens in Rio de Janeiro or the perspectives of children and young people on violence. In my view, participatory ways of working, for researchers, development practitioners, and citizens, themselves, are crucial to eventual outcomes of greater social justice, democracy and development.
Much of my experience is in Latin America, however as research manager of the Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability (Citizenship DRC) from 2003 to 2010, I have worked closely with other researchers in a very broad range of contexts (including Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, South Africa, India and Bangladesh).
My current research is on local power and violence in Cape Town, the relationship between citizens and informal governance; and, on the role of participatory visual methodologies in citizen action. Other central research interests include agency and citizenship in contexts of violence, accountability and power, participatory research methodologies, communication for social change, and global collaborative knowledge networks.
My interest in citizenship and violence builds on over 10 years of research in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, focussing on how violence and insecurity shift the basis for citizen engagement in both formal and informal political processes, and how violence also fragments and undermines state authority.
I have developed an approach to issues of violence and conflict that takes a citizens’ perspective. That is, I think it is important to ask how citizens experience insecurity and violent conflict and what these experiences imply for their ability to engage with political institutions.
Much of my current research focuses on interplay between forms of ‘parallel’ governance and the more formal processes of security sector reform, democratisation, and political settlements. I am also the co-director of Participate: Knowledge from the margins for post 2015, a collaboration between Beyond 2015 and the Institute of Development Studies.
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