The roles, place and influence that researchers and practitioners may have in the way participatory approaches unfold has long been documented. Such analysis notably stress that researchers’ stances towards the issue of power may vary significantly. This article documents how the positioning of two “engaged researchers” coordinating a research for development project aimed at supporting Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) policies in Burkina Faso have evolved with time. Defining engagement as being at the interface between research and policy, the researchers have made explicit that their objective was to enhance participation in policy implementation and to follow participatory approaches to do so, right from the start of the project. They adopted a stance of “conditional dialogical neutrality” in order to build their legitimacy towards Burkinabe policymakers and ensure the sustainability of their activities, shaping projects activities together with the later and following the precepts of the Companion Modeling approach. How-ever, whereas participation is presented as one of the pillars of IWRM, the administration in charge of piloting the policy proved unable or unwilling to take field realities into account and to create room for natural resources users so that the latter could participate in a meaningful and proactive way. This situation led the researchers to progressively shift towards a stance of “post-normal non neutrality”, whereby they explicitly aimed at strengthening the role and place of local actors in the arenas of participation set up by policy makers. Evolution in the positioning of researchers find their roots in the changes observed in the action-space, the understanding researchers have of it, and their willingness to maintain the principles of their intervention. Heuristically, engagement towards the promotion of participation in natural resources management allows for a critical analysis of public action. However, it appears difficult to adopt such a stance in the framework of research for development projects and in a context strongly influenced by public development aid practices and networks.
|Title of host publication||Défis et potentiels des recherches de terrain engagées en sciences sociales|
|Editors||Emmanuelle Piccoli, Jacinthe Mazzocchetti|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
|Name||Anthropologie & développement|
Daré, W., & Venot, J. P. J. N. (2016). Dynamique des postures de chercheurs-engagés: Retours sur la participation dans les politiques de l’eau au Burkina Faso. In E. Piccoli, & J. Mazzocchetti (Eds.), Défis et potentiels des recherches de terrain engagées en sciences sociales (pp. 149-178). (Anthropologie & développement; No. 44). http://anthropodev.revues.org/514