Participation, Truth and Partiality: Participatory Action Research, Community-based Truth-telling and Post-conflict Transition in Northern Ireland

Patricia Lundy, Mark McGovern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)


The article assesses some methodological and ethical issues raised by a Participatory Action Research (PAR) ‘truth-telling’ project conducted in Northern Ireland.The authors reflect on their role in the Ardoyne Commemoration Project (ACP), a community-based study that recorded and published relatives’ testimonies of victims of the Northern Ireland conflict.The article addresses two major areas of concern. First, it explores the potential value for post-conflict transition in carrying out PAR-informed, single-identity, community-based research work in a violently divided society.The authors argue that such ‘insider’ research can make an important contribution to developing strategies of conflict resolution, although significant limits need also to be recognized. Second, the article critically assesses the validity of claims to telling the ‘truth’ that such a project involves.The end of legitimating popular knowledge is key to a PAR-based approach and this can have important consequences for post-conflict transition. However, in a divided society such a goal also raises significant questions concerning the issue of partiality and the limits this sets for the nature of the ‘truth’ that may be told.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-88
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006


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