Being an embodied practitioner and researcher
Jennifer Leigh (University of Kent)
Paper short abstract:
I use an 'embodied perspective' in my work, understanding embodiment as both a state of being and an on-going process of bringing conscious self-awareness to and about the body. This brings creative methodology and questions around where we sit on the boundary between art, research and therapy.
Paper long abstract:
Before becoming an academic I worked as a somatic movement educator and therapist. I draw on this to give an 'embodied perspective' in my work. Embodiment is a contested term, and whilst used across many disciplines it does not have a defined meaning. Sociologists use embodiment to describe how people use their bodies to represent themselves at an individual or cultural level, or argue we are all embodied because we all obviously have bodies. Whilst this predominantly constructionist view of embodiment focuses on embodied experiences and emotion, it tends to ignore the body as physiology. An alternative understanding sees embodiment as both a state of being and a process of learning about the self. Embodiment understood in this way is an on-going process of bringing conscious self-awareness to and about the body. Understood in this sense, embodiment seeks to fully bridge the gap between the Cartesian mind-body dualism and provides a dialogue between constructionist and physiological understandings of the body. What can this approach bring to research? In addition to innovative and creative methodology, it invites us to challenge and question the ethics around participation and co-production of knowledge. Are we equipped to support and enable our participants to deal with the raw, honest and vulnerable emotions and feelings these approaches may generate? Are we skilled enough to hold the space for them to do this, and supported enough to seek the support we need to process it? Where do we sit on the boundary between art, research and therapy?
Creative Art/Anthropology Praxis as Revelation and Resistance