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By Prateeksha Singh & T.L. Cowan

Based on interviews, group conversations and collaborations with Awo Abokor, Kendra Cowly, Wendy DeSouza, Maureen Engel, Valerie Fox, Sandra Gabriele, Paula Gardner, Wendy Komiotis, Maria Belén Ordóñez, Carrie Rentschler, Anna Serano, Kascie Shewan & Suzanne Stein.

EFECT stands for Experiments in Feminist Ethical Collaborative Tools & Technologies

We are an experiment in working across sites and values of feminist praxis.

We are building a toolkit for ethical collaboration among peers across difference using a justice framework.

We are actively seeking to address and be accountable for the dynamics of oppression, inequity, privilege and the disproportionate distribution of value and resources, in which some members of a collaboration are more likely to benefit from, or get credit for, the ideas and work of others, even in a feminist collaboration. 

We understand feminist research collaboration as a place to interrupt these dynamics of oppression and to experiment with ways of working that emerge from the shifting needs and values of the people and organizations within our collaboration.

We experiment with different methods of interruption, but not all of these experiments are successful. We learn from experiments in collaboration that go wrong.

EFECT is an experiment in re-design

We are a collaboration where community organizations, businesses and academia are coming together to create, and to experiment in ways of working together sharing, using, and re-designing the tools and technologies that emerge from our work in and across these sectors.

Our collective work is the study and self-reflective re-design of our own process, as we build a cross-sector feminist collaboration.

EFECT is a feminist intervention into the prevailing culture of academic research partnerships and the expected outcomes of community-engaged research

This is critical because collaborations that emerge from research agendas are rarely equitable. They are built on values and ways of working that are still conducted according to the schedules of academic calendars and grant-based outcomes. They are answerable to the values and ways of working of research institutions. Most university-based community-engaged research projects are destined to take advantage of the people working in the group who are not privileged by, established in, and already rewarded by existing systems. EFECT seeks to transform these working relationships towards non-extractive, equitable, justice-oriented research collaboration across many vectors of disadvantage, precarity, privilege and security. But let’s be clear: disadvantage and precarity are hard things to talk about in the face of privilege, security and the forever ticking clock. Deadlines are anathema to intention, reflection, consultation and process. 

EFECT is an experiment in adaptability, trust and patience

Adaptability, trust, and patience are required for a re-designed collaborative process.

Building an ethical collaborative experience is a re-design that asks us to create new frameworks for how we can work together, despite having different internal value frameworks of time, scheduling, deadlines, evaluation requirements, economic needs and responsibilities.

EFECT is an experiment in humility, expressing oneself, and listening

We listen to hear each other, and agree to allow ourselves to be unsettled in listening.

We need humility to learn across structures, to challenge habits of how such partnerships have worked in the past, and a baseline promise that everyone be adaptable, responsive, and open to possibilities. Otherwise, a collaboration is structured by the limitations of the least adaptable, least responsive, least open. Sometimes a refusal to adapt, to respond, to be open—to become a block—means that we’ve come upon a difficulty, a miscommunication, or an inequity. Compromise, consensus, moving on, feeling comfortable, and getting along might not be possible unless we understand the dynamics of the block. Our method is to stay with the block nntil we directly address the difficulty, miscommunication, or inequity and work for a collective resolution. This can take a lot of time and might throw off the schedule. This is the work.

EFECT is an experiment in honouring everyone’s agency

At EFECT, we seek to question and challenge where and how knowledge happens and who holds the knowledge. We explore how capacity can be recognized and built upon within the partnership, and how everyone determines for themselves what they bring to, and what they need from a collaborative project.

EFECT is an experiment in ethical and intellectual collaboration, citation, co-authorship, and circulation

Ethical collaboration is a process of trust-building across differences in power, social locations, values, and methods of working. Intellectual collaborations require us to practice generosity, humility, and confidence. 

Collectively, we are building a research network of equals across difference, across power. This is the research. Feminist research is process. 

Some ideas are developed together, authored by the collective. Some ideas emerge from the work of one or a few. We cite each other and respect that intellectual collaboration does not take credit for the work of others.

EFECT is an experiment in ambiguity and leadership

Being too explicit with agendas and outcomes from the onset, we risk limiting the potential of the project and the contributions of all collaborators. 

We are practicing how to ethically navigate research partnerships, based on community research needs that are co-identified and prioritized throughout the project. Outcomes emerge from this process. 

Leadership is responsibility and we experiment with ways of sharing that responsibility. This shared leadership praxis is incompatible with institutional demands for a single leader who assumes full responsibility.

EFECT is an exercise in collaboratively creating something that can live on, to be built upon, and be used by others

This manifesto, our toolkit, and our curriculum are some things we created to live on, to be built upon and to be used by others.