My doctoral research is on environmental education through Wildlife Clubs in the Rupununi region of Guyana, with the Makushi. During my research I encountered – and had to ‘think through” – Art. First, in my fieldwork, as a rich source to understand the impact of the Wildlife Clubs. Second, as a means for me to reflect upon and analyze the data I gathered. Third, as a way for me to navigate my frequent sicknesses and distress, and the deaths of my family members and community members while I was in the field. And fourth, as the creative and engaging way I will disseminate the research findings back to the communities I had the privilege to work with.
The story-song behind the research started even before I was born, swaddled with Guyanese lullabies in utero. The research occurred within what Ermine calls “Ethical Space”. For me, this space was imbued with music before I knew I would do my research in the Rupununi. As a volunteer in 2006, I participated in performances where we exchanged songs, and this continued throughout my research. After each precious interview was transcribed and coded, I wrote a few lines for the song that will be woven together from all the interviews, and shared back with the communities. The orientating metaphor for the poetic song-work of my dissertation has been the Rupununi Red Road, the one unpaved road that leads to the communities, a road which will soon be paved and bring the opportunities and challenges of change.