Publication Details

Gibbs, L. (2014). Arts-science collaboration, embodied research methods, and the politics of belonging: 'SiteWorks' and the Shoalhaven River, Australia. Cultural Geographies, 21 (2), 207-227.


Arts-science collaboration is gaining increasing attention in geography and other disciplines, in part due to its ability to 'do' social, cultural and political work. This paper considers the work of SiteWorks, a series of projects initiated by Bundanon Trust - an Australian public company. SiteWorks involves arts practitioners, scientists, other scholars and local people creating works in response to the Bundanon site, on the Shoalhaven River, southeastern Australia. The paper draws on my experience as a SiteWorks participant, and poses two questions. What does this arts-science collaboration contribute to an understanding of the more-than-human world of this site? What are the methodological implications of the collaborative, embodied research methodology? The study finds that SiteWorks informs a politics of belonging. Understanding belonging has implications for thinking and action towards plant and animal life, and for the highly contested realms of human identity, indigeneity and migration. Unsettling fixed notions of belonging is essential for learning to live with the contingency presented by contemporary environmental change. Here I propose a 'passing-through place'; a place not permanently dwelt in but vital nonetheless. Secondly, the study finds that collaborative, embodied research methodology reveals and challenges our practices, invites new modes of investigation, and presents new questions and insights into place and practice. Embodied methods heighten awareness of the more-than-human world, presenting opportunity for more ethical co-existence. The academy is presently witnessing increasing attention to impact and non-traditional output. Despite ongoing challenges, collaborative, embodied research practice presents one avenue for attending to these imperatives.



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