Many consider academic research an important means to address societal inequality of marginalized groups, such as refugees. However, transformative research arguably requires critically engaged practices that consider and transform dominant exclusive structures permeating both society and knowledge production. This paper discusses challenges and opportunities of such research practices, especially given power and (neoliberal) politics around knowledge production within Dutch academic and refugee research structures. Based on 14 researchers’ narratives, the results reveal how critically engaged refugee research is challenged by its marginalized position, academic pressures and culture as well as the recently emerged ‘refugee research business’. However, the paper also uncovers various ways in which researchers manoeuvre within challenging and facilitating structures by operating outside or in the margins of academic structures, making use of facilitating spaces and strategically employing dominant discourses. Finally, researchers arguably transform academic structures by challenging dominant research paradigms and transforming the institution of academics itself.
- critical research, engaged research, exclusion, neoliberal university, power, public sociology, refugees, transformation