College of Computing and Digital Media Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Design

First Advisor

Sheena Erete, PhD

Second Advisor

Denise Nacu, PhD

Third Advisor

Tawanna Dillahunt, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Jakita O. Thomas, PhD


For this dissertation, I analyzed collaboration practices and power structures within three community-based participatory research (CBPR) studies I conducted for my Ph.D. I ask: 1) How do dominant power structures, epistemologies, and narratives manifest in HCI research and praxis? 2) How can we structure research to support our community partners' goals while resisting dominating and extractive practices in academic research? To respond to these questions, I conducted member checking interviews with my collaborators and a duoethnography with my dissertation advisor, Dr. Sheena Erete, about our experiences in the studies as a Black female professor and a white female graduate student. I grounded my findings in Black feminist thought by employing the intersectional analysis method developed by Erete, Rankin, and Thomas (2022).

Through my intersectional analysis, I identified how systems of power and disciplinary norms influenced Dr. Erete's and my decisions about how to structure our collaborations and organize our time and labor. These decisions impacted the distribution of benefit and harm within our collaborations. Systems of power also manifested in cultural narratives imbued within the studies; these narratives informed our methods and interactions with our collaborators and community members. I organize these findings into five saturated sites of power (a term developed by Collins, 2019) within CBPR. These are sites where intersecting systems of power acutely impact collaborators' experiences and study outcomes. To support researchers in developing a non-extractive and mutually beneficial CBPR practice, I offer a set of reflexive prompts that address three themes: 1) evaluating researchers’ capacity for the work; 2) distributing resources through CBPR; and 3) using narratives as a reflexive tool. This dissertation contributes to critical human-computer interaction (HCI) literature and offers recommendations that researchers can use to intentionally co-design studies that mitigate harm and advance community-defined goals.



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