UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The generative potential of mess in community-based participatory research with young people who use(d) drugs in Vancouver Thulien, Madison; Anderson, Haleigh; Douglas, Shane; Dykeman, Rainbow; Horne, Amanda; Howard, Ben; Sedgemore, Kali; Charlesworth, Reith; Fast, Danya


Abstract Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is increasingly standard practice for critical qualitative health research with young people who use(d) drugs in Vancouver, Canada. One aim of CBPR in this context is to redress the essentialization, erasure, and exploitation of people who use(d) drugs in health research. In this paper, we reflect on a partnership that began in 2018 between three university researchers and roughly ten young people (ages 17–28) who have current or past experience with drug use and homelessness in Greater Vancouver. We focus on moments when our guiding principles of shared leadership, safety, and inclusion became fraught in practice, forcing us in some cases to re-imagine these principles, and in others to accept that certain ethical dilemmas in research can never be fully resolved. We argue that this messiness can be traced to the complex and diverse positionalities of each person on our team, including young people. As such, creating space for mess was ethically necessary and empirically valuable for our CBPR project.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)