Art As A Tool For Anti-Oppressive Research: The Collective Creation Of Performed Fiction As An Act Of Resistance

Authors: Joanna Kocsis*, University of Toronto
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Development, Latin America
Keywords: Affect, Anti-Oppressive Practice, Arts-Based Research, Decoloniality, Youth, Cuba, Hard-to-reach
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 12
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Creating and propagating knowledge is always an exercise of power and power is always a function of knowledge (Foucault, 1976). Within the epistemic traditions of modernity, the creation of knowledge as a positivist project relies on the dis-crediting of ‘non-objective’ thought as a means of fortifying the authority of Western science. “Subjugated knowledges have been erased because they are illegible; they exist, by and large, as active bodies of meaning, outside of books...” (Conquergood, 2002: 146). Exclusion from the creation of knowledge is a function of exclusion from power and researchers are uniquely positioned to reinforce or resist such exclusion with oppressed groups. In the material work of research, Mignolo (2009) calls for epistemic disobedience, which demands a dedication to research as resistance and the decentring of the researcher-as-expert. Arts-based research is uniquely positioned to respond to the call for epistemic disobedience as art affords researchers the opportunity to consciously reject “practices that are implicated in colonialist traditions of objectivity and that treat production of knowledge as a function of social privilege” (Finley, 2008: 4). The study presented here explored the affective experiences of leisure among a group of racially, economically and territorially stigmatized young people living in Old Havana, Cuba. It combined anti- oppressive practices, theories of affect, and arts-based methods to address the beyond-cognitive nature of lived experience, to navigate the delicate political context in which the research took place, and to mediate the complexities of working with a research population that the dominant discourse labels ‘hard-to- reach’

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