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  • Author or Editor: Kate Pahl x
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This chapter considers how a coproduced approach to research could enable an understanding of how communities might be different. Engagement with communities at all stages of research places collaborative and participatory research methods in a central role to widen the ways community partners and universities can work together. The chapter analyses the methodologies that can be used to think about accommodating diverse opinions and tacit knowledge within communities, as well as what this reveals about processes of exclusion and integration in local communities. It also shows how universities work collaboratively with community partners to shape or construct research together. Universities can be seen as spaces where people can think, they can provide funding for innovative research projects, and they can support ways of knowing and reflective practice, creating ‘living knowledge’ in the process.

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This piece is an encounter with a school which went wrong, but something was retrieved. It shows how it is important to factor potential failure into collaborative research. It is also about what happens when a team of artists go into a school and work together.

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This chapter articulates an approach to knowing through art, in that we recognise the need for artists as individuals to intervene and change the world. It also argues that the process of making involves a process of change, and art includes a huge diversity of practice and a commitment to knowing together and making together. Art as knowing can be developed through conversations, walks, in moments of interaction that create spaces for more things to happen. Art is a process, and here we think about how things emerge — stuff comes from stuff: trying, helping, working, making, talking — new ideas come from doing.

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This chapter draws on a conversation held in Rotherham central library café between the artist Zahir Rafiq, Kate Pahl, and Steve Pool. All of the quotations from Zahir in this chapter come from the transcript of this conversation. The chapter explores with Zahir Rafiq his lived experience of Rotherham, and how he has used art to create a space for conversations and for the articulation of experience. In doing so, this chapter asks the question, ‘What can art do?’ and in this process, it argues for the arts as a mode of enquiry as well as an articulation of experience.

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This chapter turns to ‘the Rotherham project’, in which participants aged between 12 and 16 were involved in youth projects at Rotherham United Community Sports Trust. The project aimed to use photography as a means of exploring identity and to investigate themes related to the ethics of representation, informed by the participants’ first-hand experience of living in Rotherham. The young men explored the town on foot and by minibus, visiting the town centre, the surrounding countryside, and places of special interest, such as a local castle. During the photography sessions, the young men highlighted the things they liked about Rotherham, the challenges they found concerning, and their hopes for the future.

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This chapter describes a project in which residents shared their visions for making themselves at home in Park Hill flats. The research team conducted a series of ‘events’ with residents, all aimed at exchanging views about the ways in which it was possible to live within the space. Architecturally, Park Hill offers a very different view of how architecture could be, and the socialist vision of the modernist Park Hill Estate in Sheffield was very much of its time. Now subject to urban re-development, we consider, with residents, the potential of Park Hill for a different kind of urban living, that embraces design as a mode of being.

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In this article we explore the ways in which universities and communities can work together drawing on our experience of a community-university co-produced project called ‘Imagine’. We reflect on our different experiences of working together and affectively co-produce the article, drawing on a conversation we held together. We locate our discussion within the projects we worked on. We look at the experiences of working across community and university and affectively explore these. We explore the following key questions:

  • How do we work with complexity and difference?

  • Who holds the power in research?

  • What kinds of methods surface hidden voices?

  • How can we co-create equitable research spaces together?

  • What did working together feel like?

Our co-writing process surfaces some of these tensions and difficulties as we struggle to place our voices into an academic article. We surface more of our own tensions and voices and this has become one of the dominant experiences of doing co-produced research. We explore the mechanisms of co-production as being both a process of fusion but also its affective qualities. Our discussions show that community partners working with academics have to bear the emotional labour; by ‘standing in the gap’ they are having to move between community and university. We also recognise the power of community co-writing as a form that can open up an opportunity to speak differently, outside the constraining spaces of academia.

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The Poetics of Letting Go

This book invites the reader to think about collaborative research differently. Using the concepts of ‘letting go’ (the recognition that research is always in a state of becoming) and ‘poetics’ (using an approach that might interrupt and remake the conventions of research), it envisions collaborative research as a space where relationships are forged with the use of arts-based and multimodal ways of seeing, inquiring, and representing ideas.

The book’s chapters are interwoven with ‘Interludes’ which provide alternative forms to think with and another vantage point from which to regard phenomena, pose a question, and seek insights or openings for further inquiry, rather than answers. Altogether, the book celebrates collaboration in complex, exploratory, literary and artistic ways within university and community research.

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This chapter examines the process of researching how to transmit musical heritage through the process of co-writing. The Transmitting Musical Heritage project team involved a number of different partners, all with particularly complex sets of skills. These interrelationships embedded between the academic institution and community partners had a strong impact on the project, its processes and its destinations. It involved varied approaches to practice and research, with the team and the co-producers, at times, occupying an amorphous zone where academics were academics, academics became musicians, musicians became academics, and musicians were also musicians. This community of practice was able to uncover tacit knowledge about playing and the process of making music together, as well as to unfold narratives about which heritage was valuable and why. This enabled a shared vocabulary of practice.

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In this chapter, we introduce some of the reasons that drove us to compose this book in the first place. The book is written to challenge a singular view of the university and to move towards more collaborative modes of enquiry.

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