What 'creative-relational inquiry' means to me
We exist in relation. Without the Other there is no Self. Our sense of our existence as autonomous, bounded, unique individuals is therefore contingent on our connections and relations to Others.
We live in a social world, and our experiences are created in relation with that world. Our experiences become our identity, developed and connected with others through the stories we tell. Such stories are representations, created and told to construct our sense of self and to express this identity to others at one and the same time. For me, then, creative-relational lies in this work that we do constantly creating ourselves and others in relation; the creation and representation of our experience which constantly evolves through our interaction with the world. In research, this leads to a focus on the relationship between individuals and their world; between myself as researcher and the research participants and their worlds.
In research we are creating representations of these relationships between the researched and their worlds; through our interpretations and re/presentation of these interpretations to a wider audience. The challenge to us as researchers is to acknowledge our role as creator of these representations. To consider the impact of our self, and our voice, in re/presenting the voices or selves of Others; whose voices are we silencing or privileging?
Creative media provide an opportunity to usurp the academic authorial voice. In my work I have used poetry as a means of representing people’s experiences of being a psychiatric patient, and digital stories to capture and re/present the stories of people with dementia. I have done this in the hope that such media offer the possibility to de-centre the academic, authoritative, voice and open-up spaces for different voices to be heard. That through the use of creative media, the audience must engage in a different way, one which requires interpretation. But we cannot assume that this is unproblematic and the role of creativity in research in opening up the spaces for marginalised voices to be heard must be interrogated.
Dr Rosie Stenhouse
Lecturer in Nursing Studies
School of Health in Social Science