'Struggling with the word strange my hands have been burned many times' : mapping a migratory research aesthetics in arts-based research

Frimberger, Katja (2018) 'Struggling with the word strange my hands have been burned many times' : mapping a migratory research aesthetics in arts-based research. Studies in Theatre and Performance, 38 (1). pp. 228-239. ISSN 2040-0616

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    Abstract

    The following paper maps a migratory research aesthetic within four arts-based research workshops, which explored international students’ intercultural 'strangeness' experiences. Using a neo-materialist framing, the article argues that an emphasis on social-aesthetic 'production' in social science research allows for a rhizomatic knowledge topography that accounts for the materially entangled nature of intercultural experience and prioritises relationship-building, collective learning experiences and aesthetic experimentation over the researcher's epistemological mastery of the topic. The article takes as examples two movements of multimodal translation in the drama workshops. 1) The first data example shows how a 'real' experience of sensory awkwardness - of burning your hands under British taps - triggered other performative modalities by research participants 2) The second data example shows how a more 'fictional' creative writing piece triggered a pragmatic discussion around street trash and ‘real’ problem-solving strategies. It is argued that a rhizomatic knowledge production in arts-based research necessarily oscillates: between semiotic and embodied modalities, individual and collective experience, as well as between 'real' and 'fictional' modes of philosophising. Whatever the movement of ‘translation’ however, these acts of aesthetic making and philosophising around intercultural ‘strangeness’ are always 'becoming' within a wider map of interactions between human and non-human agents.