3: Arts-based methods to co-create knowledge and reconstruct power relations with marginalised women in and through research

Academic and professional knowledge have dominated the history of social work research and practice. As a result, new knowledge has been grafted predominantly onto an existing base of professional authority and expertise. Arts-based research is emerging as an alternative approach to knowledge production, broadening the understanding of how scientific evidence is created and who is in the position to create it (). It is intended to open space for deliberately engaging with voices from the margin, hence rendering it a meaningful approach to advance social inclusion and social justice in and through social work research. In this chapter, we draw on our experience with arts-based research projects to contemplate this potential and to contribute to a critical dialogue regarding the impact of arts-based research on power relations and structures in social work academia and practice. We start by briefly introducing our research collective, explaining our rationale for working with arts-based methods, and describing two projects in which visual arts were used. We continue this chapter by elaborating on the merits and challenges of this methodology in relation to co-creating knowledge and altering power relations, derived from our own experiences in relation to the strand of literature on arts-based research.

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