Skip to main content

How can researchers contribute to global development?

Queen Mary University of London has hosted a major conference in Rio de Janeiro which explores the ways in which non-indigenous researchers can engage with indigenous communities from around the world.

Published on:

Research collaborations with indigenous people have become an increasingly important topic within the Research Councils’ Global Challenges Research Fund portfolio.

The aim of this workshop was to reflect critically on how indigenous methods of research are essential to understanding the major problems that face the world in the 21st century. Whether it is to address the challenges of climate change or racism, environmental sustainability or gender violence, drought or endangered cultural heritage, researchers are coming together to ask how can indigenous knowledge can be effectively activated as a resource for future development.

Engaging with questions of global development

On behalf of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) researchers from People’s Palace Projects at Queen Mary have successfully hosted a three day conference workshop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which focused on how research can engage with these questions of global development.

Participants of the workshop included researchers from a wide variety of communities in 10 different countries as well as 11 UK universities. Instead of sharing findings, each group shared their own experiences of their research processes. This novel approach will be used as the starting point to further develop good practice.

A key output from the initiative will include a resource for UK and international researchers for use when planning research or responding to opportunities for collaboration.

Creating more enquitable and meaningful research 

Professor Paul Heritage, Director of People’s Palace Projects at Queen Mary said: “This workshop is an important milestone in understanding how we can create more equitable and meaningful research outputs and methodologies. 

“There are particularly urgent ethical concerns around indigenous research that range from the ownership of knowledge - who has the right to share in it and who benefits from it to how we approach the preservation and protection of endangered cultures and environments.

“There is a need to create more equitable, context specific, historically, culturally and linguistically sensitive research as well as knowledge co-creation and mobilisation.

“At a time when indigenous rights are under increasing threat, this conference goes to the heart of how and why we do research.”

About People’s Palace Projects

People’s Palace Projects was set up in Queen Mary’s School of English and Drama in 1996. For the past 20 years, its cultural exchange programmes and creative projects have sought to make a measurable impact on people’s lives. This includes working in the Brazilian prison system, negotiating cease fires between rival drug gangs in Rio de Janeiro and improving degraded environments in Acre, Brazil.

In 2010, People’s Palace Projects became the first and only UK arts organisation to be designated as one of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture’s International ‘Pontos de Cultura’ (Points of Culture). Professor Paul Heritage has also been knighted by the Brazilian government for his contribution to UK-Brazilian cooperation. 

More information

Related items

For media information, contact:

Back to top