This event spans multiple dates:
13 Feb 2023 14:00 - 16:00 IT Training Room, University Library, West Road, Cambridge
20 Feb 2023 14:00 - 16:00 IT Training Room, University Library, West Road, Cambridge



Dita N Love (CDH Methods Fellow)

About the workshop

Sarah Ahmed and Jackie Stacey wrote that “speaking out about injustice, trauma, pain and grief have become crucial aspects of contemporary life which have transformed notions of what it means to be a subject, what it means to speak, and how we can understand the formation of communities and collectives” (p.2, 2001) in the introduction of the special issue Testimonial Cultures. These workshops ask therefore: what does it mean to centre survivor-knowledge, and witness together the aftermath of intersecting violence, when language and traditional methods often fail to re-present the experience of trauma? How can we avoid tokenising creative-digital research under the pressures of a precarious academy and creative sector?

Why take part?

Participants will gain an overview of the creative-digital turn in research and a practical introduction to creative-critical methods for interdisciplinary, collaborative, and liberatory research projects. We will explore methods like: ‘artography’, poetic inquiry and portraiture, ways to adapt them for a specific project, or to combine them with qualitative methods.

The sessions are open to all levels of skill, and no prior experience is required. An ethics of care underpins the workshops aimed to do justice to sensitive topics, and no level of personal disclosure is needed. Past research has found that working with innovative methods helps:

  • represent and capture holistically completeness of experience of participants’ social realities including emotional, sensory and contextual aspects of lived experience
  • generate and bear witness to alternative and different cultural narrative and counter-stories
  • build trust, start a dialogue, and curate different ways of relating
  • rebalance power and highlight social injustice to inform policy
  • enable problems to develop and emerge in collaborative, embodied, and affective ways of knowing, and thus open and extend liminal and verbally inaccessible ways of knowing
  • co-produce spaces where participants as experts empower themselves to record and instigate change both on the group and through empathic communities online.

Format and Methods

The first half of each workshop will cover relevant scholarship with method examples. The second half will invite participants to try out one method style (e.g. Spoken Word, creative writing, prose, monologues, found poetry, oral or digital storytelling), and learn some research techniques (e.g. transcription, juxtaposition, remixing, assembling).

For the practical part, you can work with your own data (bring your own), or with a sample of data (provided at session). Participants will be guided to try the use of a creative method of their choice to address one of the following aspects of research and teaching: 1) data collection, 2) data analysis 3) researcher reflexivity and ethics, 4) writing for publication, and 5) dissemination of findings beyond academia. In addition there will be an optional online ‘clinic’ style session a week after Session 2, where participants discuss their individual projects or questions. The exact timing for this will be announced in Session 1.

Session 1 Socio-Digital Futures of Creative Research?

  • An overview of creative-digital turn in research, its context and notable examples in social sciences and beyond disciplinary boundaries; participants will be invited to explore the possibilities and challenges of creative-digital research in the grip of the pandemic and in a time of multiple adversities along the personal, socio-digital and political lines of inquiry.
  • The practical part will spotlight the two methods of portraiture and poetic inquiry, and their relevance for mutually transformative research. Participants will try out various creative styles and remixed poetic approaches.

 Session 2 ‘Freedom-Dreaming’ in the Academy

  • Introduction to collaborative research and ‘artography’ with examples across digital Spoken Word, education, prison research, applied youth studies, and more. Examples will invite participants to deepen reflections from the first session and further explore the cross-disciplinary conception and application of ‘abolition’. How can ‘freedom-dreaming’ in the academy re-world the ways we engage with harm reduction, justice, ethics of love and care in research.
  • The practical part will spotlight two methods of critical artography and collaborative poetics to trouble and enact our collective research responsibilities to bear witness to multiple traumas. 

Background and further reading

The workshop turns to creative-digital research strategies of affective, spiritual, and collective ways of knowing to overcome epistemic injustice stemming from privileging purely rational, instrumental and individual research approaches. It also takes seriously the subjective-experiential, intuitive and poetic knowing to move closer to naming the unspeakable because “in its shock impact trauma is anti-narrative” (Luckhurst, p. 80, 2008). Hence, the course adopts a creative lens on trauma (e.g. social and digital harms, stigma, and oppression). The content does not discard medical definitions of trauma, however it aims to craft a space for other ways of being and knowing together in the academy and beyond.

  • Ahmed, S. and Stacey, J. (2001) ‘Testimonial cultures: An introduction’ Cultural Values. 5:1, 1-6.
  • Angeles, L.C. and Pratt, G. (2017) ‘Empathy and entangled engagements: Critical-creative  methodologies in transnational spaces’, GeoHumanities, 3(2): 269–278.
  • Barke, J., Gray, A., Hammett, J., Mahoney, K. and Okuleye, Y. (2021) ‘Emotions, Vulnerabilities and
  • Care in Sensitive Research, Historian’s Watch.
  • Davis, C. (2021) ‘Sampling poetry, pedagogy, and protest to build methodology: Critical poetic inquiry
  • as culturally relevant method’ Qualitative Inquiry, 27(1), 114-124.
  • Gilmore, R. W. (2022) ‘Abolition geography and the problem of innocence’, B. Bhandar, and A. Toscano.
  • (Eds.), Abolition Geography : Essays towards Liberation. London: Verso, pp. 161-170
  • Irwin, R.L.I., Agra Pardiñas, J., Barney, D.T., Hua, J.C., Belidson Dias, C., Golparian, S. and
  • MacDonald, A. (2017) ‘A/r/tography around the world’, in G. Barton, and M. Baguley (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Global Arts Education. London: Palgrave McMillian, pp. 475–495.
  • Johnson, J. (2017) ‘Chapter 4: Button Up: Viral poetry and rethinking the archives’. In Johnson, J.,
  • Killing Poetry, Blackness and the Making of Slam and Spoken Word Communities. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, pp. 91–115.
  • Love, B.L. (2019) We Want to Do More than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of
  • Educational Freedom . Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Luckhurst, R. (2008) The Trauma Question. London: Routledge.
  • ‘Breaking Methods Webinar Series’ (2020). Vitalities Lab, UNSW Sydney and the Australian Research
  • Council Centre for Automated Decision-Making + Society. YouTube.

Target audience

CDH Methods Workshops are open to staff and graduate students who want to learn and apply digital methods and use digital tools in their research. Participants are requested to complete this simple information questionnaire before the event.

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