Making meanings out of me: Reading researchers’ and participants’ bodies through poetry

Harvey Humphrey*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article offers autoethnographic reflections on the experience of qualitative research that account for the embodied subjectivity of interviewing as a research practice and the embodied practice of research outside of a traditional ‘field’. The article reflects on the ways in which the author was underprepared for the shifting power relations and shared vulnerabilities within research interactions to be experienced in an embodied way. This article then reflects on the process of experiencing research in the body during the writing-up process. The article draws on data collection experiences and fieldwork notes from a research project on trans and intersex activist relationships undertaken by a trans researcher with a history of LGBTI+ and trans activism. Furthermore, this research project was undertaken by a disabled scholar who had to negotiate a complex web of access needs and decisions over in/visibilising disabilities in order to complete the research. This early career scholar experienced a lack of research methods teaching and training on the complexities of in-community/insider research for those who may be members of communities made vulnerable by society and a lack of training on the expectations of embodied fieldwork practice. This article does not offer teaching or support suggestions to fill this gap although those are illustrated in detail by Pearce’s (2020) ‘methodology for the marginalised’. Instead, the article invites early career scholars, and those teaching research methods, to imagine research and imagine fieldwork with embodied researchers in mind. The article uses poetry to take readers on a journey of the embodied research of one trans and disabled scholar in the hopes it may speak to other scholars with a range of diverse identities and experiences who may be made vulnerable by society and those who have the privilege of teaching them. The article uses poetry as a means to express these embodied reflections drawing on Richardson’s (1999, 2002) creative analytic practice of ethnographic poetry and Anderson’s (2001) embodied writing. The poetic reflections are offered as an interruption to the body of the text with an embodied poetry to touch the reader in a different way. Although these poems deliberately interrupt the body of the text, they can be read in their locations as reflections on their closest sections or a collection of poetic reflections after reading the article.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-89
Number of pages20
JournalOpen Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2023

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