13: Decolonising Participatory Research through Arts-Based Methods?

As calls for more egalitarian and democratic research practices are becoming more widespread, the relevance of participatory research is manifested through emerging concepts such as research partnership, co-creation and co-production of knowledge. It also connects to the growing popularity of arts-based research methods. While the potential of participatory and arts-based methods has been discussed widely, not yet enough attention has been paid to decolonial perspectives in this context. As such, discussion on decolonising practices that draw on arts-based methods is not a recent phenomenon – consider, for example, the iconic works of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1981) on the role of the arts in decolonising the mind. However, the term ‘decolonise’ has later become a widely used term in Western academia, one that too often serves as a metaphor instead of contributing to concrete practices of decolonisation (Tuck & Yang 2012; Tuhiwai-Smith 1999). Premised on the necessity to challenge the ways in which colonial power relations and Eurocentric knowledges are (re)produced in Western epistemologies, this panel explores whether and how it is possible to use arts-based methods for creating more egalitarian and democratic practices in participatory research. In discussing both the transformative potential and limitations of arts-based methods, it asks: What can arts-based methods contribute to decolonising participatory research, its processes and practices? How can arts-based methods, for example, lower hierarchies, foster pluralism, increase multivocality, and facilitate dialogue? What kinds of tensions and challenges may arise when using arts-based methods in participatory research, and how can they be addressed? We invite both theoretical and empirical contributions across the disciplines. The panel is part of an ongoing book project, an edited volume to be offered to Routledge. Priority will be given to those participants, who will be able to present a full draft paper (max. 8,000 words). Abstracts (max. 300 words) should be emailed to both panel chairs.

Panel chairs

Tiina Seppälä, University of Lapland, tiina.seppala@ulapland.fi

Melanie Sarantou, University of Lapland, melanie.sarantou@ulapland.fi