Reciprocity Across Communities: An Infrastructure of Accountability in Community Engagement
AuthorIglesias, Charisse Hope Sayo
AdvisorRobbins, Stephanie T.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractMy research and practice into reciprocal community engagement developed from my Peace Corps experience in Indonesia from 2014-2016. Although my Peace Corps experience was educational and fruitful, I observed many instances of Peace Corps volunteers—myself included—who exhibited traits of a savior complex and who failed to conduct equitable and reciprocal community engagement with our local constituents. A large part of my doctoral research has been composing comics as reflection, which can be an indirect strategy of dealing with difficult feelings because the process redirects the focus on the artwork, rather than on myself. By doing so, I have been able to step back, see the whole picture, and make connections between what was experienced at the moment and the lessons that came from it. The Peace Corps and my reflection of those experiences propelled this dissertation project into developing systemic changes in how we work with diverse communities.Since continuing my community engagement projects and reflective practices after the Peace Corps and throughout my doctoral studies at the University of Arizona, I have often wondered: What can we do to help community-engaged practitioners avoid the mistakes I made leading up to experiences that were not practiced reciprocally? This question connects to questions that many community-engaged practitioners and organizations are asking: What systemic changes can we make to improve how people engage diverse communities? How can we better connect with historically marginalized people and prioritize their needs while avoiding the savior complex? My dissertation addresses these questions about community engagement through a systemic, critically feminist lens that confronts the common missteps of working with diverse communities. Reciprocity Across Communities is a capacity-building framework establishing an infrastructure of accountability in community engagement through qualitative and quantitative data collected from: National volunteer program (administration) Regional community writing program (training) Course on technical and professional communication (TPC) for culturally and linguistically diverse audiences (teaching). The foundational concept of reciprocity can disrupt power imbalances in community engagement. As a critical feminist intervention, reciprocity creates space for negotiating difference and co-constructed meaning making as well as repositions traditional framing of communities as recipients of knowledge and service. Through the case studies in my dissertation, I show how different conceptualizations of reciprocity can add to existing conversations around service learning, community-university partnerships, community outreach projects, etc. to launch a Reciprocity Across Communities model that foregrounds the interconnectedness of administration, training, and teaching through accountability. Developing reciprocal community-engaged partnerships is full of gray areas and flexible expectations, interpersonal conflicts may prevent meaningful engagement, and saying or behaving in unwelcome ways could invite all kinds of miscommunication. My hope with Reciprocity Across Communities is to share a model that triangulates how we engage with diverse communities, encourages strategies that meet the (un)spoken needs of our constituents, and holds us accountable to how we create meaning with each other.
Degree ProgramGraduate College