Joshua Babcock, Brown University; Yukun Zeng, University of Chicago;
'The relationship is the project.' This famous artist-activist dictum resonates with experiences and ongoing concerns in the social and humanistic sciences, where human relationships, past and present, are a crucial matter of concern. In the Hawai'ian context, at a conference taking place on stolen land amid ongoing settler-colonialism-a structure, not an event (Arvin, Tuck, and Morrill 2013)-the question of accountability remains pressing. We draw on conceptualizations of accountability developed both in and outside the academy. In inviting us to dream accountability, activist and educator Mia Mingus writes: 'What if accountability wasn't scary? It will never be easy or comfortable, but what if it wasn't scary? [...] What if we built relationships where we could have nuanced conversations about accountability, shame, fear, guilt, embarrassment, insecurity, trauma, and healing?' (Mingus 2019). We embrace the multiplicity of the term accountability: first, to produce a count (as in the Latin computare, 'to count'); second, to produce an account, in and as narrative practice; and third, to embrace the multi-directional, situational impacts that emerge from our mutual relating. If the relationship is the project: relationships of what kind, with whom, and toward what ends? To whom are we accountable? What happens when we substantively include nonacademic knowledge-producers beyond qualified statuses as 'citizens' and 'natives'; when we cease to presume discrete, internally homogeneous communities to engage in our research; when we form organic continuity between knowing and acting, knowledge and wisdom; and/or when we engage publics at the outset rather than as an afterthought?