GRF/ECS grant "We Grew as We Grew"

GRF/ECS grant: "We grew as we grew: Longitudinal perspectives on youth activism, visual methodologies, and HIV prevention"



Three-year research grant from the University Grants Committee (UGC) of Hong Kong. The study will analyse the longitudinal impacts of an educational research project in South Africa following on young people as they grew into adults over the past 12 years in South Africa.

Educational research using visual methods has transformative potential, yet structural violence, poverty and other factors can inhibit the possibilities of positive life-long impacts for participants. In response, longitudinal perspectives that focus on life events through time can give researchers a better understanding of how educational work is effected as participants intersect with the communities and societies in which they live. (Mitchell 2014; Walsh 2013; Weller & Shirani 2010; Neale 2010). While these insights can be valuable into developing more effective programs, it is increasingly difficult for educational research to have the resources, or time, to conduct such long-term qualitative work.

This study addresses this gap, through a longitudinal analysis of an educational research project in which we followed participants from teenagers to adults over the past 12 years. Critically, the study explores the following questions: In what ways do experiences with educational, arts-based research around HIV prevention remain with participants over their transition to adulthood? What are the limits, and potentials, of such educational projects? How do issues of gender, class, and race intersect with interventionist education initiatives? What can we learn from taking a longitudinal approach to research on HIV education that can help improve long-term outcomes?

This study draws on research I started in 2002-2004, with follow up in-depth interviews and ethnographies that were done in 2006, 2008, and 2011. For this, the final phase of the project, I propose to conduct new research with participants to trace their journey from teens into adulthood, with the goal of developing a book-length manuscript of the 12 year trajectory.

The Age of Arrogance: Risk, technological utopianism and social engineering in contemporary society

Faculty Start-Up grant from City University of Hong Kong.

It is a commonly held belief that humans have an infinite ability to make the world a better place. While this assumption is comforting, it can also be very dangerous. Genetic engineering, the geo-engineering of climate, economic forecasting, nuclear missile deterrence, risk assessment, environmental prediction, and many other contemporary "givens" are all governed by assumptions of human omniscience, and, consequently, are often failing at catastrophic levels. Meanwhile, at the micro level, individuals increasingly believe the Self is the center for social change. From Google’s People Ops to Ted Talks, a multi-billion dollar industry has developed to create self-centered, desiring individuals. In the wake of contemporary crises from Fukushima to Wall Street, it is critical to interrogate ways in which solutions based on human omniscience and narcissism have often created a vicious cycle of new problems. How did this come about and why? What are the impacts on the world around us?