In this article we explore the ways in which universities and communities can work together drawing on our experience of a community-university co-produced project called ‘Imagine’. We reflect on our different experiences of working together and affectively co-produce the article, drawing on a conversation we held together. We locate our discussion within the projects we worked on. We look at the experiences of working across community and university and affectively explore these. We explore the following key questions:
How do we work with complexity and difference?
Who holds the power in research?
What kinds of methods surface hidden voices?
How can we co-create equitable research spaces together?
What did working together feel like?
Our co-writing process surfaces some of these tensions and difficulties as we struggle to place our voices into an academic article. We surface more of our own tensions and voices and this has become one of the dominant experiences of doing co-produced research. We explore the mechanisms of co-production as being both a process of fusion but also its affective qualities. Our discussions show that community partners working with academics have to bear the emotional labour; by ‘standing in the gap’ they are having to move between community and university. We also recognise the power of community co-writing as a form that can open up an opportunity to speak differently, outside the constraining spaces of academia.
What role does “Black history” play in community development? This chapter discusses how Black and Asian minority ethnic (BAME) communities have been excluded from contributing to national and local histories, depriving them of resources that would enable them to develop different futures in the context of a British historical narrative dominated by whiteness. It focuses on the intersection of history and community development and how community-based organisations have worked in collaboration with the University of Huddersfield (in West Yorkshire in the north of England). The chapter suggests that there are advantages in the co-production of historical knowledge, one of which is that a collaborative approach enables greater inclusion and diversity of views, especially as there is a lack of ethnic diversity amongst academic staff at British universities.