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Experiments in becoming: corporeality, attunement and doing research

Latham, A; Wagner, LB; (2020) Experiments in becoming: corporeality, attunement and doing research. Cultural Geographies 10.1177/1474474020949550. Green open access

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Human geography has become deeply interested in a range of research methods that focus on researchers’ corporeal engagement with their research sites. This interest has opened up an exciting set of research horizons, energising the discipline in a whole range of ways. Welcoming this engagement, this paper presents a series of meditations on the process of using the researcher’s corporeal learning as a research tool. Exploring two research projects, as well as the work of the photographer Nikki S Lee, it examines how the process of becoming corporeally capable might productively be framed as sets of ongoing experiments. Framing such engagements as experiments is a useful heuristic through which to think rigorously about what such research can claim as knowledge. More controversially, the paper argues that the heuristic of the experiment helps us to attend to the varying durations of becoming in ways that much existing work has discounted. Developing corporeal capacities – gaining a skill, becoming capable of doing a particular activity – involves becoming attuned to a range of thresholds, the crossing of which open up novel and frequently unexpected perspectives. Attunement to these thresholds does not arise simply through the process of mixing in and participating in a research site. It requires careful attention to the parameters of transformation involved in being able to participate. The paper explores how such parameters might be decided upon and calibrated as part of an ongoing engagement with a research site or event. Our aim is not to artificially restrict or constrain how human geographers approach their research design. Rather it is to encourage human geographers to show more courage in their use of corporeal based research methodologies.

Type: Article
Title: Experiments in becoming: corporeality, attunement and doing research
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/1474474020949550
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/1474474020949550
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Keywords: Becoming, duration, embodied learning, ethnography, experimentation, qualitative methods, temporality, thresholds
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10110050
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