Exploring ‘in-between’ spaces: drawing on arts-informed methods in critical disability studies

When:24 Jul 2018, 12:30pm - 1:30pm
Venue:Room 221/223, Level 2, John Goodsell Building, UNSW Kensington Campus
Who:Katherine Runswick-Cole, School of Education, The University of Sheffield
Exploring ‘in-between’ spaces: drawing on arts-informed methods in critical disability studies

In this presentation, we share a key part of our methodological journey in our narrative and arts-informed ESRC-funded research project, Life, Death, Disability and the Human: Living Life to the Fullest. Our project is exploring the lives of disabled young people with life-limiting and/or life-threatening impairments.

We argue here that arts informed methods (AIMs) push the rigid boundaries of traditional social scientific research methodologies, gaining new insights and understandings about the liminal, or the ambiguous “in between” spaces of people’s lives.

Our methods and methodology are embedded in the political underpinnings of critical dis/ability studies and disabled children’s childhood studies. Critical disability studies centres the lives, voices and experiences of disabled people and connects their aspirations and ambitions with class, feminist, queer and postcolonial debates. While disabled children’s childhood studies is an emerging field of study that seeks to bridge the marked gaps between the absences of children’s lives from disability studies and the routine omission of disabled children and young people from new sociologies of childhood (Runswick-Cole, Curran & Liddiard, 2017).

We found that engagement with the arts enriches opportunities for meaningful research, because of the creative possibilities they invoke. And, perhaps more practically, AIMs are also accessible to people with a range of abilities and support our ethical aim to be sensitive and responsive to the particular ways in which young people discuss life and death.

Katherine Runswick-Cole is Chair in Education in The School of Education at The University of Sheffield, UK. She locates her work in the field of critical disability studies and has published extensively in the area. Recent publications include Re-thinking Autism: disability, identity and diagnosis (with Mallett and Timimi, 2016) and The Palgrave Handbook of Disabled Children's Childhood Studies (with Curran and Liddiard, 2017).