Researching Local Subjectivities in Contested Contexts: Using Intersecting Methodologies to Understand Large Green-Energy Projects in Kenya
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This article critically reflects on the use of an ‘intersecting methodologies’ approach to generate understanding of the diverse experiences of people living near contested large green energy projects in Kenya. Local subjectivities are essential to understanding the contestations engendered by these projects, especially in areas that are distant from decision-making and global capital. However, researching residents’ experiences in these settings is challenging due to historical divisions and recent conflict triggered by the projects, and the unequal power relations that exist between stakeholders. We discuss the opportunities and challenges of using intersecting methodologies for research in contested settings, which involved weaving together qualitative, ethnographic, community-based participatory research and participatory video. Challenges included the difficulties of supporting peer researchers in remote places to conduct complex research processes from afar, negotiating the legacies of prior research practices and the knowledge economy, and balancing research sense-making with video production expectations. We argue that interlacing methodologies from different epistemological traditions helps to uncover the various ways that differently positioned local stakeholders ‘see’ large-resource-based investments. It also brought learning from the different epistemologies and viewpoints into conversation, and this created productive tensions to transform understanding of conflict and open pathways to more peaceful relations.