Food play: an engagingly novel research method for visceral geographers

Authors: Duika Burges Watson*, Newcastle University
Topics: Geographic Theory
Keywords: food; research methods; visceral geography; health
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Napoleon A2, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Moving beyond ‘talking’, this paper establishes and sets out ‘food play’ as a novel research approach for geographers interested in visceral methods (see for example July 2017 Geoforum debate). Researchers across the social sciences are exploring the limits of logo and researcher centric research methods and exploring participatory, patient-centred and multi-sensory approaches. In this paper, with reference to the growing interest in multi-sensory approaches to research in geography, neuro-anthropology and psychology, we argue that the pungency of food uniquely animates research. We illustrate our approach with reference to a six-year research project, Resources for Living, co-produced with survivors of head and neck cancer and underscored by a series of playful food workshops to address post-treatment and chronic difficulties with food and eating. In this paper, we consider how and why ‘food play’ enabled multi-sensory engagement, triggered emotions and memories, and animated and intensified participation in research. We specify our approach to food play as an integrative cognitive multi-sensory ethnographic research methodology and provide examples from our research to demonstrate key themes.

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