Praxes of Refusal

By Emily Simmonds in conversation with Dr. Max Liboiron

Refusal is a generative stance, not just a “no,” but a starting place for other qualitative analyses and interpretations of data. Refusing the colonizing code of research is an analysis that must come after, before, and beyond coding. It must precede, exceed, and intercede upon settler colonial knowledge production” ~ Tuck and Wang, 2014

To refuse is to say no. But, no, it is not just that. To refuse can be generative and strategic, a deliberate move toward one thing, belief, practice or community and away from another. Refusal illuminate limits and possibilities, especially but not only of the state and other institutions. And yet, refusal cannot be cast merely as a response, or an updated version of resistance….

~ McGranahan, 2016

This post collects up around praxes of refusal. At the center is a conversation between me, and Dr. Max Liboiron—the director of Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR). I ask Dr. Max Liboiron, whose work continues to further understandings of the relationship between environmental violence and entrenched structures of colonialism, a series of questions about the conditions that inspired the formation of CLEAR lab, and the work that goes into bringing (our) Métis legal traditions to bare on the environmental sciences. We talk about the politics of knowledge production, economies of expertise, and the labour involved in rendering dismissed ways of knowing and modes of relating visible in the space of the lab, the sciences, and the university more generally.

CLEAR is not some sort of distant remote object of study for me. I am a member of the lab and it’s an important space where I continue to learn about what anti-colonial environmental research centered in relational forms of accountability might look and feel like.

In our conversation different practices of refusal and forms of accountability converge. We talk about refusal as a cultivated practice that can be used to counter the persistent notion that research is a disembodied, politically neutral, objective act. Refusal shows up in other ways too. We chose to play with the performative dimensions of refusal, rather than just speak about it. Together we redacted portions of our conversation that were private, not for public consumption, or needed to rest in context. We chose to use redaction as a tool of provocation that shows without revealing, while at the same time hewing to the ethics of place-based knowledge, situated knowledge, and reciprocity. We used it to create space, rather than impose or enforce silence. This leaves what might appear as disjointed unfinished sentences, but also gives room for other forms of legibility to emerge. We hope this conversation provokes curiosity about how refusal can serve as a powerful catalyst that enables new modes of working both politically and personally. In our exchange the generative potential of refusal emerges from contexts in which we are deeply invested and implicated.

Finally, there are multiple voices woven from different intersections, interrogating, displacing and rethinking the potential of refusal across a number of disciplinary formations.  Indeed, it’s others’ work that helped me attune to different permutations of refusal and bring these to bare on my own practice. At the end of the post you will find a short bibliography that highlights some these works. They invite us to think about refusal in nuanced and careful ways, and undoubtedly influenced the direction of this conversation. These works call on us to think carefully about how our research practices reproduce relations and structures of accumulation and dispossession. They are invitations to do things differently.  

Caption: Microplastics
Image Credit: Max Liboiron, CLEAR

Simmonds: Would you mind introducing yourself, and the lab?

Liboiron: Sure. Taanishi. Max Liboiron dishinihkaashoon. Lac la biche, Treaty 6, d’ooshchiin. Métis naasyoon, niiya ni, nutr faamii Woodman, Turner, pi Umperville awa. Ni papaa (kii ootinikaatew) Jerome Liboiron, pi ni mamaa (kii ootinikaatew) Lori Thompson. I now live and work at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, the homelands of the Beothuk, Mi’kmaq, Inuit, and Innu.     

The way I usually introduce CLEAR–although not always–is an anti-colonial, feminist, marine science laboratory that specializes in marine plastics pollution. But, plastic pollution is really just a case study to think about how to do science, by which I mean traditional (like small ‘t’) Western style Science (capital ‘S’) using values out of Métis law, and other Indigenous values like humility, reciprocity, generosity, that sort of thing. I don’t even remember how it was born–it doesn’t really have an origin story. If it does have an origin story, it’s not very anti colonial, for our eyes only. I was in a sociology department and I needed to do science, mostly because the Conservative Canadian government had gotten rid most of the environmental monitoring programs. I was trained to critique science from a social perspective, but there was no science for me to critique. Shit! Now, I have to do science so that I can critique it. Okay, I better go do it!


So, I went out, and counted. for our eyes only 


For our eyes only, with the support of others I created this lab. I found out that if you’re a tenure track faculty member, and you decree that something exists, it exists! It was pretty magical!

I said there’s a lab. for our eyes only It was being like a white man, I imagine, you say things, and they are believed to be true and real. At the very beginning it was just me and a couple of student positions that people donated to me, but at our peak there have been 24 of us, now in our own space, painted the colour of Wonder Woman’s outfit. It’s gone through a lot of changes, but at its core it’s a scientific laboratory that aims to model feminist, anti-colonial, and Indigenous thought through scientific protocol.

Simmonds: One of my favourite origin stories about the lab is connected to a closet in the university basement. I like to imagine the closet version of CLEAR, it’s so fucking bad ass!     

Liboiron: Yes, we worked in an old janitor’s closet. We were bum-to-bum dissecting birds, breathing each other’s air. For our eyes only 

Simmonds: How did that space come to be?  

Liboiron: Through someone else’s generosity. When I was negotiating with the sociology department and dean for my position, and said, “well, I need to do science now,” they didn’t believe me. They wouldn’t give me a space, for our eyes only. So, a colleague in biology, Dr. Yolanda Wiersma, very generously gave me one of her storage closets that used to be a janitor’s closet. It had a working sink in it, and so she moved all the boxes out. I moved into this tiny, tiny space where you could only put two people butt to butt in it and that’s where we worked for two years. Yep, almost two years. And we stuck our freezer down the hall behind the elevator in a space that was called “the penthouse” but it was dusty and filthy and had a hatch to the roof in it. It was all borrowed space.


Simmonds: I’ve always enjoyed hearing stories about you rescuing and recalibrating equipment.  

Liboiron: I still do that! It’s my idea of a good time. I think scavenging is really important because instead of having something spring from your genius forehead to all your individual specifications, you have to collaborate with what’s there, for our eyes only. You have to meet what’s in the trash and work with it.  

Where I grew up that wasn’t considered recuperation, that was just how it was. I grew up in the bush. And, I grew up for our eyes only. It’s just what you did when you went to the dump. You dropped, you shopped. For our eyes only that’s for our eyes only how things happen for our eyes only. I don’t even think of it as recuperation, although I understand recuperation can repair, reconstitute, and there are sort of part of the politics of how those are understood. For me there’s no ‘re’ in it. For our eyes only


Simmonds:  For me, it raises questions about how I collaborate for our eyes only.  It’s something I am struggling with. I find myself stuck

How do I build citational communities as I navigate multiple forms of accountability?


Liboiron: I think for our eyes only


SimmondsFor our eyes only are only present as an object/subject of study for our eyes only.


Liboiron: For our eyes only I’m struggling with that a lot actually. For our eyes only.  I do a lot of trying to figure out if I’m ‘us-ing’ or ‘we-ing’ or ‘they-ing’, or ‘we-ing’ or ‘them-ing’.  My sentences are getting really convoluted for our eyes onlyyou know, we/you need to get ‘their’, ‘our’, ‘my’, ‘their’, ‘our’ consent for research. For our eyes only… 



Simmonds: What, then, would you say are the primary differences, and, or similarities between CLEAR, and other wet labs engaged in environmental monitoring?

Liboiron: What’s similar is that we go and count things and talk about the state of the world in more for our eyes only holistic ways. So, that’s pretty similar. We also produce papers that look fairly similar to other types of scientific papers. What’s different is that rather than values of objectivity, universalism, and tenure, we have values that stem from obligations to place, making the world better, and working for scientific sovereignty for people who aren’t usually counted as knowledge holders in the academy. Some of those things leave traces in our papers such as having a Land acknowledgment in the acknowledgement section, or that our papers have undergraduates on them as full authors, and occasionally animals in them as full authors, so there are these little hints that end up in our papers which are different than other scientific papers. But what is really different is the stuff that doesn’t end up on paper– every act in the lab, from: who and how I hire; what and where we buy from; to how we talk; when and how we do lab meetings, how we approach and kill animals; all those sorts of things. They’re all supposed to, or I should say, they’re all designed to foster reciprocity, generosity, humility, equity, these sorts of things. That’s where I put my energy and time, and for the most part my money.


Simmonds: It’s helpful to have you highlight the differences.  I suspect that if I ever get another invitation to work and learn in another wet lab I would be productively disruptive.  

Liboiron: If you take any of the skills we’ve developed in our lab into another lab, you might not circulate for very long! Most other labs, whether or not there are macho researchers in them, have a hierarchy that is fairly top down, a sort of command and control style in a strictly regimented apprenticeship model, where the master speaks and everyone else tows the line. Also, labs are often driven by the idea that research is inherently good, and that a researcher’s for our eyes only curiosity is a good enough driving force for expanding knowledge.  

Simmonds: How do other scientists and Science and Technology scholars draw upon the methods and protocols that we develop at CLEAR?

Liboiron: When I first started the lab, and started calling it a feminist, anti-colonial lab, I thought that there would be immediate and legible pushback. And there wasn’t, which isn’t to say that we don’t have pushback. For the most part, I think it’s the type of pushback that isn’t legible. I suspect that I work in more molasses than other people. But, when I do get pushback that’s legible to me, like in written form, in arguments, and those sorts of things, it’s usually from people who don’t matter to the functioning of the lab, or to life.  So, like when random white male scientists are like, for our eyes only My response is, “that doesn’t matter, moving on!” Or in Q & A’s when we talk about community peer review and the right of communities to refuse that our research to circulate in academia, someone is like, for our eyes only I’m like, “but you don’t, moving on!” So, we’ve gotten that kind of pushback. Sometimes I take the time and energy to address those concerns and teach. But increasingly, I’m saving my energy for inside the lab.

On the flip side, I’ve had a lot of other labs write me, and say, “I hear that you run meetings differently, can you forward that to me? I’ve never had training in how to run a lab meeting.” So, I teach them our facilitation protocols for running lab meetings, and they take that because it’s useful. If you look at some of the conversations in science that talk about, say, Indigenous knowledges, or traditional ecological knowledges (TEK), it’s usually about ‘integration’ which often means taking what’s useful to academic science and giving that science that little bit of extra grab, and then moving on. That’s what people are very prepared to do with my lab, as well, if it doesn’t disrupt their normal practices and desires. They can use parts of it without the values. They “integrate” it. They’re very happy to use our protocols and open technologies, which we publish online. They’re very happy that we do ‘open science’, or what they understand as ‘open science’ and they’re willing to take that. This isn’t a judgement– it’s what I see happening in terms of how people take our stuff up. There are some instances where our values align with other labs and they take up more as well– that is ideal. But then they don’t really need us. They see our model, say “oh yeah,” and off they go. These also tend to be the folks who remember to cite us when they use our methods in their work.


For our eyes only


Liboiron: Yes. All of our invented hardware is open source, so we don’t have anything that’s proprietary. We have stuff that’s private that isn’t allowed to circulate because it’s for our eyes only not for public consumption, or it’s for someone else to refuse. For our eyes only.

Simmonds:  I am interested in the way that refusal gets structured for our eyes only structures of accountability outlined and formalized for our eyes only research ethics boards.


“Informed consent”, and other types of institutionalized consent making practices that are contractually articulated are important, yet on the ground or in practice these types of consent making practices can foster a very transactional notion of consent, that still allows the researcher to determine the research goals, and the agenda of her work. Transactionalism, is along way from co-determining what  good research might look and feel like for our eyes only Through university or government research ethics review processes which, again, are very important, the researcher is only accountable to set of what are treated as universal ethics neatly bound and defined by contracts, which in many ways freezes consent locating it to the moment a paper is signed or verbal permission is given, which assumes that one can know in advance what final written product or research results will look like. It also tells us nothing about all of the ways that contracts are routinely broken or ignored, and why and the work of attending to these damaged relations are….   


Liboiron:  Yes, and, we might not always know what those impacts are because we’re not necessarily of those communities, or if we are– some of the lab members are– those are really diverse communities. So, you can’t even account for an entire community that way. So just like how you show your interview transcriptions, or your ethnographic notes to the people who are involved in them, so that they can be like: “This is cool. You got my good side.” Or like, “oh my god take that part out!”  Or “no, take me out of your study, this is bullshit!”


That’s what our community peer review process is for our science, it just shifts what peer means. It’s a more humble concept of what a peer is, and a more relational concept of what a knowledge peer is.

For us, most of the communities we deal with do have hard edges, because we get samples from locations, and those locations are attached to where people eat and live and there are big spaces without humans in between. So, in that sense, it’s easy to find those boundaries, relative to other types of communities, like say those in Toronto.

So, we can go to those places and we say, “this is the research we did, and this is why we did it, and here is what we found. What do you think?” And not directly, we’re asking, “can we publish this?”  I say not directly because a lot of people, including people in academia, have internalized this idea that if you’re an academic expert then you’re the only one who can know about how your data should shape up and circulate. And, that’s just not true. So, you know, say you are a rural fish harvester, and I ask, “Can I publish my data?” They might be like, “obviously! What does it have to do with me?”  And they might give us consent without us giving them enough space in their role to control how their homes and food webs are represented. So, we try and look for any instances of refusal from body language, whether people show up or not, how people show up, all of these sorts of things. There’s been great variability in those signs of refusal and consent.


So, when I first started, I could be this big driving force in the lab and there was this charismatic core to everything and perhaps that attracted people. It was new research. I was new in the province. I was the comedic woman scientist. I could make events that could draw people in. Also, early on we had a student who was from one of the villages where we got fish samples, and everyone in that place showed up to see her all grown up and being a scientist. In these cases, people would show up and give us consent in various ways, and nuance research directions by telling us what species we might look at, and what kind of studies were more important to them, who they thought we should–and shouldn’t!– partner with, which has shaped the lab considerably. So, that’s why we do mostly animal studies now, instead of other forms of studies like surface water or benthic studies. But, increasingly as my students go out– I teach students the methods of peer review that they go out and practice it in their own thesis projects– they don’t always have the same force behind them, they aren’t from the places that they’re studying, and they have smaller turnouts and less back and forth. There’s certainly less laughing. So, there’s been shift. This has been a lesson for me about methods– where you’re from for our eyes only matters to this method. We’re entering an era in our community peer review process where I have to think: can we do community reviews outside of our own communities? And, the answer might be no, and then the response might be, “well then I guess we can’t do research outside of our own communities,” which would be entirely appropriate.  

So, I think we’re going to enter a new a new phase of thinking about the structures of our own refusals, based on the thinning out of the structures that would provide community refusals.


Simmonds: Silence is refusal. For our eyes only data sovereignty, for our eyes only.

Liboiron:  So in my role as an administrator I work a lot with consent at the university level, by  trying to ensure that researchers have consent from Indigenous groups that they’re researching with, at, for, or on us or them. One of the comments that keeps coming back to me from researchers is that, “hey, they’re not answering my calls.” To which I have to point out, “well they don’t know you, so why would they answer your call?” “Well, you know this getting consent from new groups, and having to build relationships is a barrier to early career researchers!”  And my response is: “Yes.” I want to stand by that barrier, in fact, I’m working to make that barrier higher and thicker in ethical terms. And so, this idea that perhaps you can’t and shouldn’t do research if you don’t have deep, good, strong, ongoing consensual relations, this includes the sciences, especially the sciences. This is part of anti-colonial science, science that doesn’t replicate an assumed guaranteed access to Indigenous land, people, cultures, knowledge…


Simmonds:  It’s so interesting to operationalize this particular practice of refusal inside of the sciences. And to think/dream about how this might change how the sciences– including the social sciences- have to operate, and change their knowledge making practices in really significant ways. Of course, and I think you would agree, this in not a new project. Really the question of refusal is a question of consent for our eyes only 


Liboiron: Yes, the thing about science is that the main circulating documents of our research –scientific articles–are expected to be scrubbed of all those things. So, in CLEAR, we explicitly include them in our lab work and in our documents to some degree. So, issues like representation, ethics, refusals, struggles, relational modes of knowing and being, all these sorts of things still happen as a matter of course in science. We talk about them with other scientists all the time. We talk about them at conferences, we teach students about them, but they don’t get documented and they don’t circulate openly the way they do in social sciences and humanities. I think they’re just as equally there. I talk to scientists all the time who like are like, “my heart hurts when I do this, and I think I have symptoms similar to PTSD from looking at all these dead birds all day long. I have a relationship with all these dead birds, and you know I’m struggling with that relationship” and that happens all the time, every day. It’s just that we don’t want to write about it. That’s one of my goals for CLEAR eventually: I want to get a bunch of scientists together for our eyes only. I’d like say, “write your findings how you want to, honey. Screw respectability and pay attention to respect. Put down that your heart hurts when your sample size has to be two hundred dead birds. Write about how you feel about lethal sampling, write about it, put that in your piece.” I bet that will be a hell of a special issue.

Simmonds: Those types of affinities are already deeply in play in the sciences, but perhaps it’s that scientific practitioners are not given space or taught not to talk about them publicly.

Liboiron: Yes. And CLEAR is really nice in that way, as it makes explicit space for feelings and relationships and shitty days within the lab. As well, I want to bring other people in to have those kinds of conversations without having to be full lab members and taking up our entire politics, which is a pretty steep ask.

Simmonds:  One of the interesting things, for me, is to listen and learn from other lab members, to hear thinking through the relationships constituted inside of their methods and practices.  There is so many different ways of working and modes of relating gathered around that lab table at anyone given time, so that it becomes interesting to work on and through each other’s projects. For our eyes only.

Hum, that sounds very abstract….

Liboiron: We can talk about a couple of concrete instances out of what is currently called the animal respect protocol (that name is going to change, but that’s what it is at the moment). One of the parts of the animal respect protocol is that you don’t wear earbuds when you dissect animals. It happened through an early discussion that predates you joining the lab. It comes from an occasion where I came into the lab and someone was wearing earbuds, and I was like, “holy shit, that is horrible!” I also knew that this person would have no idea why I thought it was horrible that they were wearing earbuds while they were handling a fish who had given its life to be our food and our science. And, so I facilitated a lab meeting about respect where we addressed and discussed: what does respect mean? What does it look like? How would you enact it here? And we got pretty far, but first we all had to get on the same page, which is not where we started.


For instance, someone gave an example of respect from their own life. “Well,” they said, “I’m supposed to respect my grandfather but the other day in the car he said something about women drivers, and it was super sexist, and I wanted him to go for our eyes only So, I think respect is all about the top down domination of power.” And, my response was like, “holy shit, this is where people in the lab are at! We need to talk more about good models of respect!” There was no way to have the earbud conversation as a lab director if people thought respect was a top-down power move. Instead, through a lot of facilitation, lab members should be able to articulate and understand why they shouldn’t be wearing earbuds when they dissect a fish themselves, because that’s separating them from the fish, and they have to stay with the fish. By the end we got there. They had other examples of respecting the fish, too: “I can’t talk shit about the fish,” “I can’t take grotesque selfies with the fish,” “I need to know what kind of fish this is and where it’s from,” “I need to take a minute to imagine the fish doing its fish things before it got here to the lab.” They thought of all these different ways you can either sever or maintain a relationship by processing a scientific sample one way and not another.


For our eyes only This is how I have to try and align people towards a coordinated set of ethics when their values are honestly incommensurable, and I’m finding that to be a primary task (and struggle) in the lab.

Simmonds: For our eyes only, I should probably add for our eyes only experiencing for our eyes only incommensurabilities for our eyes only uncomfortable for our eyes only instructive for our eyes onlyWhat relations are my citational practices reproducing? for our eyes only.


For our eyes only

For our eyes only I think people reading this might be really interested in learning about how we determine author order at CLEAR. Can you describe what the practice of how we determine author order?

Liboiron: There are some guidelines but it’s always a little bit different in practice each time, which is on purpose. So the values that inform those guidelines are mostly feminist –out of feminism comes this idea that we need to value forms of labor that are not elite or masculine forms of labor, to include things like cleaning up after people, organizing people, helping people have better days, and other emotional labor. So we take time to talk about those forms of labour in science and make sure they’re part of the conversation about who did what in a project or paper. Then there is the idea of equity, that people start from different social, political, economic and power relations and the people who get the fuzzy end of the lollipop consistently get the fuzzy end of the lollipop, and the people who fail up consistently fail up. And that isn’t magic. It’s oppression. It’s systemic and systematic. So how do we address that in the instance of choosing author order whereby people get valued differently according to where they are on the paper, and this matters in their careers, in dollars and cents.  How do we arrange author order in an equitable way that values different forms of labor?

First, you got to schedule a whole lot of lab time for this type of meeting, and that’s really key.  And if you don’t do this it’s just not going to go well– please learn from my mistake and do not find this out yourself. It’s not a fun lesson! Don’t skimp on time! Efficiency should not be a guiding value on this one.

We call the entire lab together, so even people who haven’t directly worked on the papers are part of this discussion, which allows people to advocate for each other, and so that we can actually challenge the idea of who is obviously on a paper, and who isn’t obviously part of a project. What if the lab manager’s been cleaning up behind this group the whole time,  and therefore actually is part of that project’s success? And then we talk about, “what did people do?” Or in one case, “how do people know about this project?” “What are people’s experiences of this project?”

Image Caption: Author Order Map
Image Credit: Max Liboiron, CLEAR

For our eyes only So what you ended up doing is drawing this really, really, dense web of how people were related to the project. “Well, I didn’t work on the project. But I heard you at lunch with so-and-so when they were talking about this part of the paper, I pitched in this idea.” That means that person was part of a life of that paper, even if they’re a paper lead, or “on” the paper. Or someone might say, “I don’t know anything about the paper, but I know about the initial sample collection when it was happening years ago, and I was involved in that.” So, they’re in the project. So that helped us draw this really dense network that showed us that writing a paper is deeply relational to begin with and not along lines of intellectually choosing who is on and not on a project at the start. And, so then the question becomes, how do you honour that in a stratified author order? We stick with the trouble, instead of being like, “screw stratified author orders! They’re screwed up!” But that is science, and we are in science and we want to change science. You cannot ignore the parts of science that are there in order to make those changes. So we stay with the trouble, and that is way harder than us being like, “fuck it, we’re gonna say this is authored by CLEAR” because no one I can get a promotion or a graduate school admission that way. We need our names on papers–especially the students.  

Image Caption:  Members of Clear Lab 2016
Photo credit : Bojan Furst

So, we start talking about the different types of relations people have within the project, and genres emerge. There are a-little-bit-everywhere helpers, there are the driving forces, there are the idea people, there are the stats people, there are the people who do a lot of the emotional labor, but not a lot of the technical labor. People get chunked together in these different groups, and then we talk about how we value these different types of labor, these different chunks. This is always shot through with the values of traditional science, like that ideas are more valuable than cleaning up, and we massage those and address those. But gradually the chunks get in order.  And that’s actually not usually very hard it doesn’t take very long.

The conversation starts to sound like, “Jess you were just so fucking warm during that time when I was dying with stats.  You made stats possible because of your work, so you should go ahead of me because you made it possible.” And Jess might say “thank you very much.” Someone else might say, “well I think I should go in the back because I just sort of popped in to do some technical work, and popped out, and I recognize that technicians are not solely what we value here.” And so that ordering starts.

But the other thing that we take into account is equity, how the fuzzy end of the lollipop accrues to certain people over and over, and the failing up accrues to other people over and over. So are you part of the demographic that magically fails up? Okay, take the backseat to the fuzzy lollipop folks. Right! So if you’re a black queer woman in science, let us escort you to the front of the line, because that’s the only time that’s gonna happen today.

Image Caption: Author order worksheet
Image Credit: CLEAR

Simmonds:  Is this something you get pushback about?

Liboiron: That last bit about equity, yes. That’s the only part we get push back from. Hate mail. In many ways I give no shits about where they’re coming from on that. If they don’t like it they don’t have to join the lab.

It’s across various societies right now, particularly the United States where people of privilege feel “threats” to their privilege, so they feel threatened by even the mention of equity. I think it comes from the threat that the rules that enable privilege are being challenged. That’s what I think is the case because the only pushback comes from white, male scientists, usually who are tenured. Often on Twitter. The pushback never comes from the people in the lab who get jumped over, ever. In fact they make it possible because the author order is made by consensus.

Simmonds: Is there anything that you’d like to discuss?

Liboiron: I think I’d ask you as a as a member of the lab, as a CLEAR’er, what do you think is the most salient part of CLEAR? Like what is your experience specifically of collaborative practices in CLEAR?

Simmonds: For me it’s an important space because I get to see values that I recognize as important enacted in the academy which is affirming. But it is also a reminder that one has to continually learn to how to productively hold space for collaborations which requires attention to different ways of working. This is not easy work, centering values instead of just the idea that one produces valuable outputs as a researcher. For our eyes only


CLEAR has been really important for me to kind of think that out loud with other people and to just to be in community which sounds very trite but it’s such a huge thing.

Liboiron: Yeah, when I’ve asked this question of any CLEAR member they offer me some variation of what you said, which I usually paraphrase as “it’s a good place to eat my lunch.”

Simmonds: Yeah that’s really a huge part of it. And, when I say ‘good space’ it’s not always an easy space.

Liboiron: It is almost never easy. That’s not my experience, not that at all. When people encounter this conversation, I don’t want them to think it’s easy, or gentle, or that we’ve figured out how to collaborate, or some bullshit about how to collaborate: step one, two, three. We just know our values and are committed to them. I think that’s what makes it so productive, is that we have that staying with incommensurabilities, the tensions, and really, really, holding on to them. We are not moving quickly to some sort of resolve because we’re not goal driven, we’re value driven.   

For our eyes only

Simmonds: It’s a good place to eat lunch!



Liboiron, M., Ammendolia, J., Winsor, K., Zahara, A., Bradshaw, H., Melvin, J., & Fürst, B. 2017. “Equity in Author Order: A Feminist Laboratory’s Approach.” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 3 no. 2: 1-17

Liboiron, M.; Zahara, A.; Schoot, I. 2018 “Community Peer Review: A Method to Bring Consent and Self-Determination into the Sciences.Preprints

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McGranahan, Carole. 2010. Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Memories of a Forgotten War. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press

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Max Liboiron –

Emily Simmonds is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at York University, Toronto, Canada. Her dissertation focuses on how the production of nuclear energy amplifies and sustains settler-colonial land relations, with a specific focus on how the injurious effects of uranium mining are made permissible and challenged. She is a member of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) based in St. John’s NFLD, and the Technoscience Research Unit (TRU) in Toronto, ON. (Métis – Settler, She, Her)