Theorising arts-based collaborative research processes

Andrews, Jane and Fay, Richard and Frimberger, Katja and Tordzro, Gameli and Sithole, Tawona; Moore, Emilee and Bradley, Jessica and Simpson, James, eds. (2020) Theorising arts-based collaborative research processes. In: Translanguaging as Transformation. Multilingual Matters, Bristol. ISBN 9781788928045

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In its report into interdisciplinary research entitled Crossing Paths (2015) the British Academy elaborated on what they identified as the potential benefits, but also the many challenges, of working across disciplines to achieve research goals which address enduring problems in the world. In this chapter we explore some of the issues raised in the British Academy report as we believe they resonate with our own experiences of how creative arts methods can be incorporated into an interdisciplinary research project. We document and analyse how we used arts-based methods from the outset in our work, which was built around a collaboration across disciplines, modes and professions on the AHRC funded project Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, Law, the Body and the State, (AH/L006936/1). We theorise here our collaborative and transformative practice by drawing upon thinking firstly from new materialists (e.g. Barad, 2003; Dolphijn & van der Tuin, 2012) and secondly from interthinking, a concept developed by applied linguists and educational psychologists (e.g. Littleton & Mercer 2013). New materialism (discussed in detail later in this chapter) explores what Barad (2003) names intra-action between components of phenomena which shape each other by coming into contact with each other. For our work this could involve examples of discussion of research planning being shaped by, and transformed by, exploration using metaphor and dramatization. Interthinking (also discussed later in the chapter) supports our understanding of how the different modes of communication, including languages, facilitate collaborative problem-solving in teams. Translingual practice (drawing upon Canagarajah’s 2013 term for the flexible uses of language and other modes of communication for specific effects whether communicative, poetic, activist or other) occurred regularly in our collaborative work reported in this chapter (see also Fay et al., 2016, for deeper discussion of translingual practice).