A Manifesto for Performative Research

Elective reading task is an exercise of collaborating with peers on our course to engage with a reading suggested by my peer on the teaching and learning cohort group. Bernd Behr shared a reading from his elective practice as research unit.

A Manifesto for Performative Research
Brad Haseman

Having read through the article a couple of times I found it to be  engaging to enable me to gain insight towards my own art and teaching practice. Reading this paper also presented a concept towards improving learning and teaching for attainment and formulated further ideas towards my self-initiated project.

The performative research model can be seen as more engaging and focused specifically on that area of creative arts subject. Practice led research is implied by Haseman as necessary precondition of engagement in performative research. This I understand as what is necessary within practice led research is time to review reflect and experiment within your own practice. . It’s alignment with qualitative research underpins the embracing of the perspective of researcher and its participants. It can apply a range of sources and approaches that assigns communication and human interaction. The question is that how well it will be supported by some specific subject areas?

I will address the answers to Bernd’s questions through my initial thoughts from quoted highlights of the article. The quotes are scripted in red with my response in black.

1. How does the ‘performative research’ model challenge traditional epistemologies in HE?

“However, performative research represents something larger than ‘the performance turn’ (which for many is a form of emancipatory action through embodied and enacted storytelling).”

I use this quote as for me it is culturally traditional the enacted body of storytelling I identify within the context of performative research. Can suggest a method to engage learners to provide a timely moral meaning or message to the story that can be learnt, is enacted. Freedom of the movement and flow through performative methods can both capture and deliver information. This makes me reminisce of the performative style of learning that came from poet, writer, educator and performer Louise Bennett. Aside from my mother one of the early founders of my personal research of Jamaica.

The traditional aspects of the performative research model hold its own to challenge the traditional knowledge of collecting research material through quantitative and qualitative methods.

“This paper proposes that performative research represents a move which holds that practice is the principal research activity – rather than only the practice of performance – and sees the material outcomes of practice as all-important representations of research findings in their own right.”

This section of the paper I agree with and recognise it through the research practice of thinking through making. From the action of  making one can generate research questions and ideas of ‘the what if I try this…’ or ‘what else I may I need to know?’ and ‘Who do I need to have conversations with?’. By going out,  discussing and making and presenting those activities  can then be reflected upon, harnessed and gathered together. Therefore you have more holistic sense of the research. The research can also mean participation/collaboration with other people. I relate this to my own practice-based research. I wanted to research the narratives of women they considered roles aspirations and ambitions today. I hosted a pottery painting workshop. Scene one was having a meal and a discussion I had taken inspiration from Judy Chicago and Sherry Turkle’s book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age’. Scene two was the activity of painting boob money boxes and having conversations around it based on narratives of womanhood, our roles and work life balance. This was documented with rouse materials, photographs and the outcome including my own experience was a good resource for my research as I also was immersed as an active participant.

Another example is the attainment conference I had attended in July. There was a performance given to re-enact the data of Duna Sabri’s longitudinal (and combination of qualitative and quantitative research). Referring to the attainment gap within higher education. This performance was in response to the analysis of her data. The performance contained four varying scenarios that were played out before an audience. The audience were then invited to discuss and share their thoughts based on each scenario performed. It was an engaging and thought-provoking activity.

The examples I use highlight where preformative research model
can challenge the traditions of somewhat static research by a more collaborative and human engagement and reflection.

Demonstrated by my own direct co-presence research where I was host and participant and similarly to the performance at the attainment workshop where both host and audience were active participants. From reading this article the below quote resonates with my method of research for my own art practice.

“It also means that people who wish to evaluate the research outcomes also need to experience them in direct (co-presence) or indirect (asynchronous, recorded) form.”

This type of research provide scope for more diverse and cross-cultural activities. These I accept have notions of the qualitative research is noted in Brad Hasman’s article but is taken to another level where the performance can have an embodied and autonomous aspect of the research.

2. How can the diversity of references in an ‘artistic audit’ challenge the assumptions of knowledge production implicit in the traditional ‘literature review’ of qualitative and quantitative research models?

The diversity of references highlighted in my examples can challenge the assumptions of numerical data that can have its own flaws if not laid out explicitly. There are more contemporary journals and broad range of materials and online resources, events and symposiums that can be referenced of qualitative and quantitative research models.

The data can be massaged or manipulated to receive required results; such as how questioning is delivered. Interviews carried out need to be conducted carefully to avoid close ended questions. The choice of questioning would therefore had to be thoroughly considered with care for the particular subject of research.

In terms of the arts the outcomes such as the performance in terms of the code the choreography et cetera can be received more holistically. The though that they will be more subjective and open to interpretation therefore need to be supported by a clear explanation and dialogue.

3. How to measure (assess) the quality and rigour of research within the ‘preformative’ model? What are the benchmarks (considering question 2)?

How this is assessed as more challenging and (ironically) requires me to research in this area relating to the elective unit. The model itself would have to have its own set of criteria and clearly defined objectives where the outcomes can be assessed. This has inspired my thoughts on my interest  inclusive assessment a branch to address the attainment gap where I can use relate to aspects of the performative research model. Through my own investigation and research surrounding the subject of the attainment gap for my self initiated project I am sure that I’ll be able to answer this question succinctly.

So going back the article proposes that performance research represents a move which holds that practice. Is the principal research activity rather than only the practice of performance and sees the material outcomes of practice is important representations of research findings in their own right so the recordings, the coding and the fact that the choreography of the actual dance for the story telling. The story telling through the animation of the code and the story telling of  live performance through the script provide a more insightful research which would not be received from looking at static data or written research interviews. Preformative research in a wider context is more mindfully expansive. Unclear what the neuro scientific approach behind this would be, however considering neurology, the performative research model would work well with neuro-diverse students. That is the nugget to how ‘performative research’ model can challenge traditional epistemologies in higher education. There lies the keyword ‘differentiated’ where the methods from this research allows for a more differentiated and inclusive academic approach.

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