Listening as method and praxis

Authors: Beth Bee*, East Carolina University
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Feminist Geographies, Qualitative Research
Keywords: feminist methods, listening, CKDu, emotional geographies
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 15
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Listening has long been recognized as a subject of study within several fields of study such as communication and literacy studies. Over the past decade, the social sciences have begun to utilize and explore listening as a method for research. Only recently have geographers begun to explore this possibility. This paper emerges from the expanding work of geographers that explore listening as a method, particularly in emotionally sensitive research. Specifically, I consider the significance and importance of such a methodological approach as it applies to my own research about Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology in northwest Nicaragua. I reflect upon how listening, to both verbal and non-verbal language, that arose as an unexpected but integral part of my methodological approach with medical staff, patients, families, and widows as they spoke of painful and traumatic experiences. Listening both to stories of the body and to the body itself, I found myself immersed in the process of deep listening as interviewees described deeply painful, embodied, and emotional traumas. I describe how both the act and the process of listening extended over space and time as I listened to the experiences of research participants at their homes, their voices echoing in my head days later; then re-listening to the stories via digital recordings months later. Through this analysis, I argue that listening is not only an important part of the research process but also an essential means to discuss and reflect on the emotional and affective aspects of research.

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