RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2013

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8 New Frontiers of Geographical Knowledge and Practice? Exploring Creative Methods and Encounter (1): Perspectives on the work of arts practice
Affiliation Social and Cultural Geography Research Group
History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Liz Bondi (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Hester Parr (University of Glasgow, UK)
Olivia Stevenson (University of Glasgow, UK)
Alette Willis (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Chair(s) Liz Bondi (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Hester Parr (University of Glasgow, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 28 August 2013, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Lecture Theatre G34
Session abstract The aim of this session is to explore and show-case how creative and arts based encounters, acts, ways of knowing and exchanging knowledge are being currently utilised within the discipline of human geography. The session allows for papers or performances that engage with a range of empirical materials, but with an accent on reflecting upon how geographers are creatively expanding ways of organising and engaging the research encounter and disseminating the knowledges that are accumulated within them. Artistic and theatrical and mediatised techniques, methods and tactics are increasingly common in a discipline which is newly energised to critically deliver its ‘impact’ performatively. We want to ask: What is at stake here? What and how are these new techniques being utilised as ‘research methods’? How are traditional methodological concerns with inter-subjectivity and empathy being re-cast as a result? In regards to research dissemination and knowledge exchange – how is this creativity constituted and encountered with what intentions and outcomes? How are understandings of ‘research’ and ‘impact’ being challenged? The session aims to learn from the differing experiences of those using diverse forms of arts based research methods and arts in public and ‘user’ engagement activities.
Linked Sessions New Frontiers of Geographical Knowledge and Practice? Exploring Creative Methods and Encounter (2): Exploring artistic forms and geographies
New Frontiers of Geographical Knowledge and Practice? Exploring Creative Methods and Encounter (3): Exploring creative geographies: designs, maps, words
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2013@rgs.org
Creativity and Geography: Toward a Politicized Intervention
Sarah de Leeuw (University of Northern British Columbia, Canada)
Sallie Marston (University of Arizona, USA)
The aim of this paper, which dialogues with and draws from a special issue we co-edited of The Geographical Review (April 2013) devoted entirely to creative geographies, is to contextualize the proliferation of creative work in geography, especially over the last decade.

We focus particularly on the collaboration of geographers with creative practitioners, geographers producing creative work ourselves, or the turning to creative methods and methodologies within our discipline. In response to what we see as an under-scrutinized analysis of this creative (re)turn, we explicitly address its political possibilities, whether these be related to the politics of knowledge production or to wider world politics. We do this by providing ways of exploring creative geographies, including a range of creative expressions by well-known artists and writers, such as Richard Long, whose work appears in the special issue. We conclude that there exist multiple ways of politically engaging the creative (re)turn, ways that take advantage of critical faculties already well developed within the discipline.
Barracetamol and the political poetics of trade justice pedagogy.
Ian Cook (University of Exeter, UK)
When you're trying to engage students in trade justice issues, to raise awareness and concern about child labour in cocoa farming, worker suicides in electronics factories, or the deaths of workers whose garment factories catch fire, the ways in which you convey this can provoke the kind of shock that numbs and/or stirs people into action. In this paper, we ask how we can make the appreciation of such hidden social relations involving, critical, emotionally rich and sticky, in order to encourage curiosity, warmth and appreciation of the work that people do to make the things we buy. One answer is to encourage a more playful, creative and collaborative approach to trade justice pedagogy through teaching that isn’t about cultural activism, but is cultural activism.

This paper reports on the creation and antics of a cartoon paracetamol tablet: Barracetamol. He’s a doctor. He has a lovely smile. He carries a clipboard. He’s a trade justice activist who is concerned about medicines, what he and they are made from, and the pay and conditions of people who mine and grow their basic ingredients. He loves to visit shops, to meet other commodities who have the same ingredients, and to tell them about their relations. He writes thoughts on his clipboard. He tweets and posts photographs of himself on facebook, flickr and tumblr. He has lots of friends. Including the students who created him, gave him this life, and learned about trade (in)justice with him.
Affect on the move
Caleb Johnston (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Geraldine Pratt (The University of British Columbia, Canada)
In 2007, we began translating interview transcripts into Nanay, a testimonial or verbatim theatre play, which premiered at Vancouver’s 2009 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and then toured to the Hebbel am Ufer Theatre in Berlin. Nanay is a site-specific performance installation of monologues gleaned from a series of interviews conducted with Filipino domestic workers, their children, as well as Canadian employers. We are now preparing to take the play to the Philippines and are currently in the process of rethinking the project for this new context. One of the aims of this work is to bring diverse audiences close to the experiences of Filipino migrant workers and their children to stimulate a deeper and more complex understanding of the issues, and to facilitate a sustained pubic debate about temporary labour migration. But what does it mean to move the play from Canada to the Philippines? Into a milieu where most everyone has an intimate personal connect to the struggles of migration? A planning trip to Manila has nudged us to reshape our script in relation to a radically different emotional landscape. We write at the start of this transnational translation, arguing that there is a geography to the circulation of affects and that different affects travel differently in different contexts. We present several scenes and strategies through which we hope to move Nanay into a new emotional, affective and political terrain.
Knowing between: generating boundary understanding through discordant situations in geographic-artistic research
Janet Banfield (University of Oxford)
Geographical research has progressed from seeking knowledge about external objective realities to generating knowledge from within practices. These methodological developments have stimulated questions concerning which forms of collaboration and research methods are most appropriate, and the implications for academic inquiry. This paper presents my own creative expansion of the research encounter, through which I sought to generate boundary understanding or “knowing between” different artistic practices in order to illuminate artistic spatialities and subjectivities. I describe my co-experimental engagement with artistic practice alongside participating artists, and detail the generation of boundary understanding through my employment of discordant situations, in which one or more aspect of our practices – specifically the materials and locations used – is at variance to our habitual practice. I also present a number of insights gained by this variation and juxtaposition of practices in co-experimental research encounters, over and above those acquired through semi-structured interviews. Collectively these insights disrupt commonly assumed boundaries and distinctions, such as those between researcher and participant and between different practices. In particular, I suggest that artists intentionally cross the boundaries of established practices in order to expand the frontiers of their own practice, and that co-experimental artistic practice can productively be employed as a spatial practice in geographical research. I conclude by emphasising the benefits attributable to my research methods and highlighting the implications for academic inquiry in geography and the wider social sciences arising from this disruption of boundaries and distinctions.
Inserting audio stories into spaces of silence
Hester Parr (University of Glasgow, UK)
Olivia Stevenson (University of Glasgow, UK)
We will play an audio story from the collection 'Missing people, Missing Voices: Stories of Missing Experience'. We will briefly discuss the purpose of these audios as creative interventions into what we understand to be spaces of silence surrounding the experience of being reported as missing. The audios exist as resources in a project which seeks enable the diverse potential of empathy amongst professional and public audiences.