Exploring Poetry as Visual, Arts-Based, and Participatory Research Practice in the City of Gold: Experiences from Johannesburg, South Africa

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:36
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
LeConte DILL, SUNY Downstate School of Public Health, USA
Jo VEAREY, University of the Witwatersrand, African Centre for Migration & Society, South Africa
Elsa OLIVEIRA, Social Science, University of Witwatersrand, Rivonia, GA, South Africa
Khosi XABA, University of the Witwatersrand, Centre for Health Policy, South Africa
Visual, arts-based, and participatory research recognizes different forms of knowledge, audiences, “products,” and ARTifacts, not just those emerging from and for academia. The visual and performing arts can enhance representation, generate new insights, and serve as a catalyst for dialogue and collaboration. Poetry is a particular type of art that is also seen as a tool of research that can be used to investigate human phenomena (Poindexter, 2002; Thomas, 2004; Furman, 2006). Although poetry is personal, the forms of a poem—visual, oral, and auditory—are patterns that are well-known to both storytellers, readers, and listeners, and allow the audience to make sense of the story being told (Finley, 2003). In consideration of “exquisite mutuality” (Cahnmann, 2011; Boyle, 2013), the authors are conscious of the ethical issues of power and privilege in artist engagement, while also attempting to identify qualities of arts-based research methods practice that areresponsible, humble, and reflexive. This paper details the authors’ engagement with nine migrant LGBTQI “co-researchers” and previous participants in the MoVE method:visual:explore visual bodymapping project (Vearey & Oliveira) in a week-long poetry workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa. The poetry workshop aimed at delving deeper into the participants’ internal and external forms of displacement and place-making, as the co-researchers engaged in “participatory narrative analysis” (Dill, 2015) of these themes. This paper explores the visual and performance aspects of the participants’ critical analysis of extant poetry in order to generate new forms of visual (written, printed, and published) and performance (oral) art. Finally, we will discuss the utility of such visual and performance arts-based methods, particularly for social justice-oriented researchers interested in engaging with marginalized populations.