Anchoring Belonging Through Material Practices in Participatory Arts-Based Research

Keywords: belonging, arts-based research, artistic practice, participatory research, collaboration, stance

Abstract

How do people understand belonging and what kinds of stances toward belonging do they take? What kind of knowledge or ways of knowing (EISNER, 2008) does artistic practice yield about belonging? We ask these questions in this article, which is based on the research project Crossing Borders, in which we used participatory arts-based methods to study belonging. We invited participants to explore the notion of belonging in three parallel workshops drawing on different art forms, film, writing and visual arts. The goal of the workshops was for each participant to produce an artwork that deals with belonging.

In the article, we identify four stances that the participants expressed toward the concept of belonging and explore the ways in which their ideas were manifested in the artworks. We analyze the workshop discussions, the participants' interviews and the artworks, and demonstrate on both the conceptual and material level that artistic practice can provide extremely nuanced and situated knowledge, or ways of knowing, about belonging. We argue that the artworks anchor the ever-shifting stances into material forms and expressions. Artistic practice is thus one way of defining and contextualizing the fluid concept of belonging.

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Author Biographies

Kaisa Elisabet Hiltunen, University of Jyväskylä

Kaisa HILTUNEN is a senior researcher at the Department of Music, Art and Culture Studies, University of Jyväskylä. She is a film scholar who has recently studied belonging, representations of otherness and Nordic noir. She is currently interested in exploring the human relationship to nature through film.

Nina Elina Sääskilahti, University of Jyväskylä

Nina SÄÄSKILAHTI is a senior researcher at the Department of Music, Art and Culture Studies, University of Jyväskylä. In her research, she deals with belonging and politics of belonging in literature. She is currently working with creative practices of listening and new materialist arts-based research.

Antti Samuli Vallius, University of Jyväskylä

Antti VALLIUS is a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Applied Language Studies, University of Jyväskylä. He is an art historian whose main interests are landscape and the visual representation of environment.

Sari Hannele Elisabet Pöyhönen, University of Jyväskylä

Sari PÖYHÖNEN is a professor of applied linguistics at the Centre for Applied Language Studies, University of Jyväskylä. In her research, she focuses on language issues of migration, asylum, settlement and belonging.

Saara Johanna Jäntti, University of Jyväskylä

Saara JÄNTTI is a senior researcher at the Department of Language and Communication Studies, University of Jyväskylä. In her research, she deals with the relation of mental health to space, place, home and belonging through literature and applied theater.

Tuija Anna Marjatta Saresma, University of Jyväskylä

Tuija SARESMA is a senior researcher at the Department of Music, Art, and Culture Studies, University of Jyväskylä, and adjunct professor at the Centre for Contemporary Culture, University of Jyväskylä and Cultural Studies, especially Gender Studies, University of Eastern Finland. Her research interests include belonging and exclusion, hate speech, intersectionality, and populist rhetoric.

Published
2020-05-26