Translated by Maribel Casas-Cortés and Sebastian Cobarrubias, of the Notas Rojas Collective Chapel Hill, August 2005 and edited by other members of Notas Rojas, on line, February 2006
Contemporaneous to feminist consciousness-raising groups, institutional analysis was born in France. It emerged from, while at the same time overcoming, both ‘institutional’ pedagogy and psychotherapy. This birth occurred in the midst of great social upheaval and a generalized crisis of institutional power. According to institutional analysis, the “institution” is the form (at first, hidden) adopted by the schemes of production and reproduction of dominant social relations. The crisis of the institutional form opened a space which institutional analysis intended to explore. This sort of analysis starts from the institution itself in order to discover and analyze its material base, its history and that of its members, its role in the technical and social division of labor, its structural relationships, etc. How? Firstly, by recognizing the false neutrality of the (psycho)analyst or pedagogue, and the fact that any and all analytical or educational projects imply an intervention. Second of all, liberating the ‘social word’, collective expression and the “politics” (or even better, micropolitics) of desires, by implicating each and every one of the members of the institution in the process of analysis. As Felix Guattari writes in this regard:
“Neutrality is a trap: one is always compromised. It is more important to be aware of this in order for our interventions to be the least alienating as possible. Instead of conducting a politics of subjection, identification, normalization, social control, semiotic management of the people with whom we relate, it is possible to do the opposite. It is possible to choose a micropolitics that consists in pressuring, despite the fact that we’ve been conferred little strength, in favor of a process of de-alienation, a liberation of expression, using ‘exits’, or rather ‘lines of flight’, with regards to social stratifications”. Also, “In order to develop an authentic analysis [..] the main problem would not be interpretation, but intervention. ‘What can you do to change this?’”.
However, this is not the only way of linking politics to action by institutional analysis. Given its origins in pedagogy and psychotherapy, this analysis focuses on institutions such as the school and the hospital (especially psychiatric). But, from the start, these institutions are understood not as isolated spaces; rather, the entire institutional system is seen as communication and articulated with the State. This leads to a direct relationship between institutional analysis and political militancy: in the last instance, the state will always resort to violence when the stability of the institutional system is threatened. This makes “discovering” or analyzing the institution impossible unless this implies some type of “confrontation” at a particular moment, and experience in the strong sense of the term –that is, the experience of action, of militancy.
Even if some literatures tend to exclude Felix Guattari as a member of the institutionalist movement, this anomalous and prolific thinker, analyst and militant was the one that coined the term “institutional analysis” around 1964/1965, during a session of a study group that focused on institutional psychotherapy. Guattari coined this term due to the necessity to differentiate this new trend from two others: on the one hand, against the school led by Daumezon, Bonafé and Le Guillant (who coined the expression “institutional psychotherapy” during the French Liberation in World War II) that limited analysis to an internal question within the walls of the psychiatric institution. This focus understood the institution as an isolated entity with no relation to society in general, believing that it was possible to de-alienate the social relations of the hospital by limiting research to the institutional territory itself. On the other hand, institutional analysis also distanced itself form the increasing specialization of [psycho]analytical practice, that gave exclusive responsibility to an “expert” person or group, who then gained an extraordinary amount of power. “Analysis will only be useful when it ceases to be the task of a specialist, of an individual psychoanalyst or even of an analytical team, all of which constitute a formation of power. I believe that a process must be produced that emerges from what I’ve called agenciamiento --organization making-an-agent-of/empowerment of analytical enunciations [I think is the French “agencement”, which is sometimes translated as “assemblage”.]. This empowerment process is not composed solely of individuals, rather it depends on particular social, economic, institutional, micropolitical, … workings.” In this same vein, institutional analysis would consider social movements as agency-makers/empowerments of privileged analytical enunciation. Examples of this would be found in the feminist and free-radio movements.
The practice of institutional analysis would proliferate and feed off of the experience of the magazine Recherches and the FGERI (Federation of Insitutional Research and Study Groups), both of which brought together psychiatric groups interested in institutional therapy, groups of teacher from the Freinet movement, students connected to the BAPU experience, architects, urbanists, sociologists, social psychologists…This enriching input would lead to the incorporation of two vertices in the analytical process: on the one hand, a “research on research”, that is to say, an analysis that takes into account “the fact that researchers cannot comprehend their object except under the condition that they themselves are organized, and that they questions themselves about things that on the surface have nothing to do with their object of study”; on the other hand, the idea of “transdisciplinarity” in research, which allows one to unblock false problems.
Additionally, it was in this context that key notions were proposed that would later be incorporated into the critical social sciences: analyzer, institutional transfer, transversality…In particular, transversality would be the keystone concept of analysis: “Analysis, in my opinion, consists in articulating, in producing coexistence –not in homogenizing or unifying-, to provide a principle of transversality, to succeed in making different discourses communicate transversally […], discourses of distinct orders and not only general theoretical discourses, rather micro-discourses as well, more or less babbling, at the level of everyday life relations, interactions with space, etc.”
Confronting the faith in the practice of consciousness-raising (and much of marxist theory and practice), and the importance of making what lies latent emerge into consciousness, institutional analysis, due in large part to its roots in psychotherapy and pedagogy, insists in the potential of the molecular level, in the value of micro-discourses, in collective work on the economy of desire. In this sense, much emphasis would be placed on the importance of the ‘analytical vector’ of social struggles to the extent that this vector could help unblock those same struggles. In this respect Guattari would write: “I’m convinced that class struggles in the developed countries, the transformations in everyday life, all the problems of molecular revolution, will find no solution unless, apart from traditional theorizing, a very particular form and practice of theorizing is developed, at the same time individual and of the masses, that in a continuous manner, leads to a collective re-appropriation of all that concerns the economy of desire. […] At the same time that one formulates what one considers just, or one gets involved in a struggle that one sees as efficient, the development of a type of ‘passage to the Other’ becomes necessary, an acceptance of heterogeneous singularity, a militant anti-process, that coincides with the analytical process.”
The history of the institutionalist movements would have two phases and May ’68 would constitute the turning point between them. The first phase would be fundamentally French and its concrete practice would be carried out within the interior of a particular institutional framework (a school, a clinic, …). After May ’68 we find, on the one hand, in France a tendency that re-inscribes institutional analysis in the terrain of specialist (whether university-based or professional social psychologists). Institutional analysis would thus convert itself into largely either a commercial or university product, under the auspices of figures such as Georges Lapassade, René Lourau and Michel Lobrot. The problem here would not the recuperation of a practice that emerged in the heat of dynamics of social self-organization and critique, rather again- as in the case of consciousness-raising- the transformation of institutional analysis into a formalized and abstract ‘method’, or directly in the antipodes, of the concerns, problems and worries from which the analysis was formulated. On the other hand, outside France (especially in Italy and the United Kingdom) the institutionalist movement would completely exit the institutional framework in order to attack the very principles and bases of the institution. Together with the countercultural movement of the seventies this branch of institutional analysis would help to found anti-psychiatry and school-free education. Ivan Illich, David G. Cooper and Franco Basaglia would be figures of reference in this regard.
Action Research or A+R (which later on will be complemented with a P for participation) was born as a reaction to the productivist and technicist model proper to R+D (research and development). Action Research is the result of a confluence between critical schools of social research and pedagogy (such as popular education, especially the theories and experiences inspired by Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed). These pedagogical experiences gain an important presence in Latin America, being linked to processes of adult education and community struggles for improving everyday life conditions.
PAR attempts to articulate research and social intervention with local communities’ knowledges, know-hows and needs. It considers ‘action’ as the main criterion to validate any theory, prioritizing practical knowledges. The objectivity of these knowledges is generated through the degree to which they were collectively produced, through interpersonal dialogue together with a procedure that goes from concrete elements (or realities) to the abstract totality, returning afterwards to the concrete. By the time this knowledge returns and is reapplied to the concrete, it is in a crystallized condition ready to generate action (thus the paradigm of objectivity is transformed into reflexivity and dialogical engagement, embracing two principles similar in ways to feminist epistemology). However, not every action is valid in and of itself: the action that is expected to emerge from a PAR process has to be collective and contribute to the transformation of reality, generating a new and more just reality. This is one other key aspect for the validation of the knowledge produced. Therefore, for PAR, social (and transformative) praxis are at the same time, object and result of the study.
Another key element distinctive of PAR is its rupture with traditional relationships between subject (researcher) and object (researched), which had been characteristic of classical sociological research. From the moment one recognizes that every social subject holds potential for action, there is a search for a process of co-research, in which different subjects, with diverse know-hows or knowledges, relate to each other according to ethical criteria. Those subjects that are from outside of the community or the social reality under investigation should function as catalyzing elements, but never over determining the situation. This requires an absolute transparency towards all the participants in the research process. Also, it demands a constant articulation and feedback between the technical/scientific knowledge (which normally comes from outside) and the “popular knowledges” already existing in the community. This allows for dynamics of formation and dynamics of self-confidence and (discursive and reflexive) articulation of those knowledges that are usually not recognized. This additionally requires permanent attention to the diverse planes of subjectivity (researchers such as Tomas R. Villasante divide them into manifest, latent and deep/profound planes of subjectivity).
PAR emerged as a strong trend during the mid sixties linked to popular education and grassroots activism in the midst of anti-imperialist and anti-colonial revolutionary movements. While most often associated with Latin America and its connections with Freirian popular education, it soon becomes clear that PAR was a Third World wide tool for radical organizing. Besides Latin America, South Asia becomes an extremely important site for experimentation with PAR (in particular India and Bangladesh), with PAR processes occurring as well in different parts of Africa. Some of the most prolific and militant figures to follow in tracing this genealogy include: Fals Borda from Colombia, Mohammad Anisar Rahman from Bangladesh (currently director of the Society for Participatory Action of Asia, in New Delhi); and Sithembiso Nyoni from Zimbabwe. It is at this moment when it is claimed that “PAR has demonstrated itself to be an endogenous intellectual and practical creation of the peoples of the Third World”(Fals-Borda 1985:2). The culminating moment for the consolidation and internationalization of PAR was the World Symposium held in Cartagena, Colombia in 1977. Since then, the umbrella tradition of PAR has grown in internal diversity.
It was during this time of effervescence of anti-imperialist struggles throughout parts of the Third World then that PAR would sink its roots and challenge the epistemological bases of the colonial social sciences (sociology, anthropology, etc.). In particular, PAR became a tool to empower social struggles in rural areas and to build strong ‘campesino’ movements. Though rural areas were where some of the most impressive work took place, PAR also became a process of experimentation to empower marginalized urban communities and their struggles over the spaces of everyday life. It was this mixture of a PAR process and urban social agitation that facilitated experimentations with PAR in parts of the global North. From the late sixties on, PAR will reach Europe and North America.
Action Research arrived in the Iberian Peninsula during the eighties, through what was called dialectical sociology developed mainly by Jesús Ibanez, Alfonso Ortiz and Tomas R. Villasante. Introduced into this (Spanish state) geographical and historical context, PAR would very rapidly, upon its introduction, be appropriated as a tool of governmental co-optation. It is true that PAR, as a formalized process of action-research which is often contracted by local administrations and innovative companies, would become on many occasions a tool for consensus making. Channeling and calming down any trace of social unrest, especially during the 80s, in a context where the “silent majorities” started to look disturbing, and it was necessary to make them speak in order to better govern them. It is also certain though that many elements of PAR constitute a source of inspiration to make research a tool of transformation: PAR’s initial approaches, some of its techniques and certain experiences of articulation of modes of collective action coming from the analysis of the practitioner’s own situations, and the combination of technical, theoretical knowledges with other minor knowleges (especially when these participated not due to an “invitation” by state institutions, but out of the “irruption” of local communities –this distinction is made by Jesus Ibanez-).
Inquiry and Co-Research. Class composition, self-valorization. The personal is political. Departing from the self. Transversality. Micropolitics and the economy of desires. Liberation of expression. Lines of flight. Action-Research. All of these concept-tools will reappear in the contemporary initiatives that are seeking to articulate research and action, theory and praxis. The same will happen with many of the concerns, themes and problems that we just traced in these historical examples. They resonate with current initiatives but in a strange way, especially due to a radically different context. While the experiences just reviewed were born in a climate of huge social effervescence, linked to massive social movements, the current terrain in which the majority of contemporary initiatives of militant research are inserted, appears more mobile, changing, dispersed, and atomized. What do these then have in common, the ‘old’ and the ‘new’, apart from a series of expressions that the last ones borrow from the first ones, though in unorthodox ways, thus becoming their illegitimate daughters?
Let’s see. First of all, both share a strong materialist inspiration. Against all idealism and all ideology, this inspiration looks for the encounter between the thing and the name, between the common thing and the common name. This is to say: instead of relying only on interpretations from books or pamphlets (usually frozen), it is about contrasting these with elements coming from a concrete reality, and starting from there, to proceed from the concrete to the abstract, always to come back to the concrete and the possibility of its transformation. Thus, action and practice will be granted absolute primacy in all of these research experiences. It is no longer that we have been interpreting the world for a long time and now is the time to change it (Marx dixit), but rather that the very interpretation of the world is always linked to some kind of action or practice. The question will be then, what kind of action: one that conserves the status quo or produces a new reality.
Second of all, apprehending the concrete elements as well as intervening on them are produced through that sensitive machine that we know as the body, a surface where the inscription of a subjectivity, that lives and acts in a concrete social reality, occurs. That is why we can say that another common element is the critique of all disembodied theory, that pretends to speak from a neutral place of enunciation from where everything can be seen. No, sirs: thought, by necessity, passes through the body, and therefore, thought is always situated, implicated, taking a side. The question then is: on which side should we position ourselves/are we positioned? Or, in other words: with whom do we think? With workers’ struggles, with dynamics of social conflict and cooperation, with women, with “crazy people”, with children, with local communities, with subjugated groups, with initiatives of self-organization…
The third of the common elements is the certainty that all new knowledge production affects and modifies the bodies and subjectivities of those who have participated in the process. The co-production of critical knowledge generates rebellious bodies. Thinking about rebellious practices provides/gives value and potency to those same practices. Collective thinking engenders common practice. Therefore, the process of knowledge production is inseparable from the process of subject production or subjectification and vice versa. It is of little worth to go around telling (commanding) people what they should think, how they should interpret their own lives and the world. One cannot be certain that this type of transmission of information from consciousness to consciousness might produce something, or liberate in any sense. That form of transmission is too superficial, and holds disdain for the potential of encounter between different singularities and the strength of thinking and enunciating in common. It is from this concern that an interest in an articulation between collective forms of thought and research emerged: the practices of co-research, self-consciousness and transverslity all go in this general direction.
Finally, the last common element that we can identify is the priority being granted to goals and processes over any kind of formalized method. Method, when abstracted from the context and concerns from which it was born, can become a corset that prevents a genuine connection between experience and thought, analyses and practices of transformation. It becomes a kind of ideological screen that blocks any displacements that can occur due to new problems and concerns that emerge in the midst of a research process. Actually, we could say that processes of militant research are capable of putting real operations into place that are above all methods. Militant research is, in this sense, always, an open trip, in which we know the origin and how it started, but we do not know where it will finish.
Effectively, all these common elements between experiences of the past and current initiatives are appropriated by these last ones in hybrid, babbling, stumbling and new ways. As mentioned before, the context is different. Many of forms of militant research or action-research of the present are formulated, in fact, in an effort to break with some of the identitarian and sectarian logics of the 80s and the 90s, especially in the global north, that could freeze real conflicts. It also tries to break with the voluntarist activism that characterized those “years of winter”, as well as its counterpoint, a dispassionate vision of knowledge distanced from the vital, productive, affective and power-based contexts. In the context of an atomized social reality, where even strong communities seem to have disintegrated forever and the large mobilizations appear and disappear without leaving apparent solid traces, the issue of the “passage to the Other”, the relationship with ‘Others’ becomes central in order to generate a common thought-action which does not remain in the small ‘us’ of a discrete group or grupuscule.
In this new context, and beyond possible affiliations with the past, it is possible to identify three current tendencies of articulation between research and militancy, with multiple points of connection and resonance among them, as well as specific problems to each one. As a finale to this prologue, let’s try to introduce them in a summarized (being, of course, very reductive), in an effort to draw a small cartography of militant research today:
The gross and still clumsy traces of this cartography need to be submitted to the critical eyes of multiple militant-researchers. These lines are being drawn on a very concrete sheet of paper: a context of a rich, hybrid and virtuoso social composition, with a strong demand for transformation, and in search of re-appropriating its own capacity to create worlds. With this goal, this cartography invents and fine tunes tools with which to interrogate itself and others, interrogate the reality in which it is inscribed, fastening itself to this reality’s surface and maybe shaking it. Some of its basic raw materials are the word, the image and the practice of relating oneself.
 See Common notions, part 1: workers-inquiry, co-research, consciousness-raising, http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/0406/malo/en.
 Jacky Beillerot, “Entrevista a Felix Guattari” in Felix Guattari et al. La Intervención institucional [Institutional Intervention] Mexico: Folios, 1981, p. 113 y 111.
 Specifically, the GTPSI-Groupe de Travail de Psicologie et Sociologie Institutionelles, facilitated by Francois Tosquelles between 1960 and 1965.
 Jacky Beillerot, “Entrevista a Félix Guattari”, op. cit., p.103
 About these forms of organization, see Félix Guattari, Plan sobre el planeta. Capitalismo mundial integraddo y revoluciones moleculares, Traficantes de Suenos, Madrid, 2004.
 A pedagogical movement of cooperative and experimentary schools. It was founded by the French communist teacher Célestine Freinet at the end of the twenties. The movement would reach international dimensions.
 Bureau d'Aide Psychologique Universitaire-University Centers of Psychological Assistance
 Jacky Beillerot, “Entrevista a Félix Guattari”, op. cit., p.96
 Ibid., p. 106.
 Ibid., p. 105. The articulation of the molecular revolutions with an authentic mass social revolution would become the question that most preoccupied Félix Guattari after May ’68.
 On the history and some experiences of institutional analysis one book of reference (in Spanish) is the edited volume by Juan C. Ortigosa (ed.) El análisis institucional. Por un cambio de las instituciones, Campi Abierto Ediciones, Madrid, 1977. In that same volume see the articles by Félix Guattari and the CERFI.
 As an interesting aside, Action Research developed clear connections with French institutional analysis, especially with the ‘formalized’ version developed by Lapassade, Lourau and Lobrot, and key concepts such as ‘analyzer’and ‘transversality’ were shared
 See Tomás R. Villasante, “Socio-praxis para la liberación”. Also see Fals Borda, Villasante, Palazón et al. Investigación-Acción-Participativa, Documentación Social, 92, Madrid, 1993.
 Note of the translators: the two following paragraphs were not in the original text.
 The movement of PAR in the global South has been interpreted as counter power constituting an “ insurrection of subjugated knowledges” by Arturo Escobar (1984) “Discourse and Power in Development: Michel Foucault and the Relevance of his work to the Third World” en Alternatives X:377-400
 For more information see Orlando Fals-Borda (1985)  Knowledge and People’s Power: Lessons with Peasants in Nicaragua, Mexico and Colombia. New Delhi: Indian Social Institute; Orlando Fals Borda and Aisur Rahman (1991) Action and Knowledge: Breaking the Monopoly with Participatory Action-Research. New York: The Apex Press.
 See Comité organizador del Simposio Mundial de Cartagena (1978) Crítica y Política en Ciencias Sociales. El Debate Teoría y Práctica: Bogotá: Editorial Fundación Punta de Lanza (two volumes)
 As two expressions linked to PAR in Europe consider the Science Shop movement started in the Netherlands (See Michal Sogard Jorgensen 2004 Science Shops. Thinking the Future and Twinning Old/New Shops: Science Shops vs. Universities. Electronic document: http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/science-society/scientific-awareness /shops_en.html,) and the movement of Universidades Populares in Spain (See Colectivo Ioé. 2003 Investigación Acción Participativa: Una propuesta para un ejercicio activo de la ciudadanía. Paper presented at Activist Research Conference, Barcelona, Online document at www.investigaccio.org)
 Two main centers dedicated to participatory action research currently active in North America are the International Council for Adult Education based in Toronto, directed by Budd L. Hall. It is also the publisher of Convergence a quarterly journal in the broad field of adult education and PAR in general. In the US, Highlander Research and Educational Center in Tennessee is one of the oldest (1932) and most active, with renowned figures in the field of PAR as John Gaventa. For a comprehensive overview of initiatives and centers in the US see Community-Based Research in the United States a report by Loka Institute released in 1998, pdf document on line.
 For an excellent review of the basic features of PAR see Elena Sánchez Vigil, “Investigación-acción-participativa” in TrabajoZero, Dossier Metodológico sobre coinvestigación militante, Madrid, September 2002, pp.3-8. For a more exhaustive analysis of the context in which PAR emerged, as well as a review of its epistemological and methodological bases, including interesting examples see Luis R. Gabarrón and Libertad H. Landa, Investigación Participativa, Cuadernos Metodológicos, n.10, CIS, Madrid, 1994.
 This cartography is the same as that presented in Sánchez, Pérez, Malo and Fernández-Savater, “Ingredientes de una onda global”, cit. This was produced in Madrid, thus its tentative, partial and provisional character. Some have read this cartography as if it were a taxonomy of militant research, that highlights a series of models of this sort of research from which one would have to pick. This piece was never intended to be understood that way. Rather this chapter was meant to be a kind of orientation diagram that can bring one into contact with the practices (each one quite different from the others) that participated in the book Nociones Comunes, of which this text is the Prologue. The desire of this chapter remains precisely that then, a prologue that introduces the reader to the various practices contained therein.
 Some examples of this type of practice are: maps about multinational networks produced by Bureau d’Etudes and Université Tangente (http://utangente.free.fr); maps about resistances by the Buenos Aires-based Street-Art Group (http://gacgrupo.ar.tripod.com); the map of and against the Barcelona Forum of Cultures in 2004 (www.sindominio.net/mapas); or the cartography of the straits of Gibraltar (http://areaciega.net/index.php/plain/cartografias/fadaiat/cartografia_del_estrecho) produced by Straits Indymedia (http://estrecho.indymedia.org/index.php) and the Red Dos Orillas (the Network of the Two Coasts- http://www.redasociativa.org/dosorillas).
 This organization of people with AIDS was formed in the US after the ‘explosion’ of the “AIDS crisis”. It has a strong presence in France as well. In this organization medical knowledge is combined with the knowledge of the organized members with AIDS, as well as their networks of family members and friends. For more information see http://www.actupny.org and http://www.actupparis.org. In the Spanish state, we can find similar examples where different kind of knowledges are combined. The experience of Laboratorio Urbano is focused on the urbanists’ and architects’ knowledge is combined with from neighborhood knowledge and squatter knowledge, all making alliances in order to build an urbanism from the bottom-up, in contact with the direct experience of inhabiting the city (http://www.laboratoriourbano.tk). The experience of Grupo Fractalidades en Investigación Crítica combines social-psychological knowledge, migrant knowledges and activist knowledges in order to develop projects of social research (http://psicologiasocial.uab.es/es/node/193)
 A very interesting experience is the one developed by Colectivo Situaciones, through their workshops in collaboration with different counter-power realities in Argentina. [This chapter is available in English online at http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/5-4/5-4index.htm. Other experiences are the workshops or roundtables organized by the University of the Poor in the US (http://www.universityofthepoor.org) and the inquiries and interviews by DeriveApprodi magazine (http://www.deriveapprodi.org).
 This has happened in a non-systematic way within the Social Centers –squatters’ and community centers- in Italy and in Spain.
 The multiple experiences of inchiesta and coricerca developed in Italy are located in this framework. See magazines such as DeriveApprodi and Posse, as well as the initiatives by the German collective Kolinko which has engaged in interviews in telemarketing (http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/kolinko/engl/e_index.htm). In Spain, several examples could be understood under this framework: the incipient trajectories of Precarias a la Deriva in its process of action-research from and against precarious labor/life, see http://www.sindominio.net/karakola/precarias.htm); Colectivo Estrella, with its interviews about precarity and anti-war mobilizations (see http://www.nodo50.org/tortuga/article.php3?id_article=2939); and Entrásito, with its work ofinquiryand agitation with migrants and the precarious (see http://estrecho.indymedia.org/newswire/display/7778/index.php).