Arts-based research practices and the political imagination
Ruth Kelly (University of York)
Emilie Flower (University of York)
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses what it might look like to approach research as an artist might approach making art, drawing on research in Uganda and Bangladesh to identify how using arts-based techniques and materials can help to disrupt dominant paradigms and enlarge the space for the political imagination.
Paper long abstract:
This paper discusses how approaching research as an artist might approach making art can open space for groups of people to negotiate emerging proposals for developing or adapting political systems. In July 2017, two groups of academics, artists and activists met in Kampala, Uganda and Dhaka, Bangladesh to explore how art can help us imagine and inhabit new ways of being, feeling and knowing, as part of a bigger project trying to articulate and explore political utopias/alternatives. With notable exceptions, much literature on arts-based research methods discusses what is discovered through a reading of the final product, rather than what is discovered through the process of making art. In this paper we explore the disruptive power of behaving like a researcher and an artist, in research that seeks to allow dominant political and economic structures and conventions to be disentangled, shaken, upturned, interrogated and new ideas to emerge. We identify a number of practices common to artists that we feel could help researchers/participants to know and notice differently: embodied cognition; falling in and out of work; noticing what's there not what we expect; deference to expertise and skills; and working without a goal. The techniques and materiality of arts-based methods can help participants to inhabit alternative epistemological standpoints. We explore the tension between the depth of insight obtained through expertise in one approach and the range of epistemological perspectives that can be experienced by experimenting with many.
Conflict and Activism