International, Comparative and Action Research: Triangulating Wales with the Basque Country and California

Dr Igor Calzada presenting at Fulbright Scholar in Residence Reception at California State University, Bakersfield

Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.

International, comparative and action research can be shaped through an unexpected and highly unpredictable rationale when conducting fieldwork research. In 1946, Kurt Lewin defined action research as ‘transformative research on the conditions and effects of various forms of social action that employs a spiral of steps, each consisting of a cycle of planning, action, and fact-finding to assess the outcomes of the action’. More recently, Bradbury, Bennett and Brunner, and Argyris argue that action research aims for transformative change through the integrated process of taking action and conducting research, interconnected by critical reflection.

This is exactly the case of the project ‘Smart Rural Communities’ and its related fieldwork research conducted in post-conflict, remote, and rural areas in Colombia and Mozambique that I conducted when I was a Senior Researcher at the University of Oxford. This fieldwork was led by the Spanish NGO Ayuda en Acción in collaboration with three co-operatives belonging to the well-known Mondragon Co-operative Corporation flagship group that has been implementing foundational economic principles through pragmatic actions over the last decades, rooted in the Basque Country and operating internationally.

Over the last decade, I have been conducting international, comparative and action research. In January 2021, a Fulbright Award granted by the US-UK Fulbright Commission, allowed me to triangulate Wales with the Basque Country and California. I took up a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence (SIR) at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) between August to December 2022. I investigated emerging digital citizenship regimes in the Basque diaspora in California by experimenting with the new e-Diaspora platform led by the Basque Government. This was made possible through cutting edge technologies such as blockchain, decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) and data cooperatives.

While I was conducting action research, interviewing members of the West Basque-American community in California, Idaho, and Nevada, I always had in mind to triangulate Wales with the Basque Country and California. And gladly, after I arrived from California, I received funding from the Learned Society of Wales to culminate this process and close the triangle. In an online workshop held on 5 May 2023, a line-up of great speakers from Wales and the Basque Country, elaborated on three main topics: fiscal devolution (Macro), urban transformations (Meso), and grassroots innovation (Micro).

Long live the small nations that continue to cooperate in socio-economic and socio-political transformation of their communities while conducting international and comparative action research together.