Failing better: Creative and collaborative methods in researching urban inequalities and conviviality

Increasingly, researchers exploring inequalities and convivialities in cities turn to creative and collaborative methods because of their potential to challenge top-down epistemologies and essentialist typologies (Erel and Reynolds, 2014; Mannay 2014; Vacchelli 2016). Drawing on debates about ‘live methods’ (Back and Puwar, 2012) and the use of visual and multisensory methods in research (Rose, 2016; Degen, 2012) the stream explores how to render our research more artful, lively and responsive through methodological innovation.

  • How can we apply methods inspired by or emerging from the arts in our research on cities?
  • How do creative and collaborative methods provide different opportunities of telling about how people live, negotiate and experience racism, inequality and poverty as well as forms of new ethnicities (Hall, 1989), urban multicultures (Back, 1996) and conviviality (Gilroy, 2004)?
  • How can we best collaborate on creating new research methods with artists, activists, communities and individual research participants?
  • What are the challenges in communicating our research findings in ways that are accessible beyond academia?

 The stream will thus examine the contributions that these approaches can bring to the study of urban inequalities and conviviality but also the practicalities, relationships of co-production and questions of communicating this research back (for example, going beyond the tendency to merely translate visual and multisensory material back into the usual written formats – see Rose, 2014).

The panelists selected from the CFP will engage in discussions on the relevance and practicalities of creative methods, as well as comparative and collaborative approaches to the study of urban convivialities and inequalities. In the spirit of collegiality, we will share our experiences of methodological failure and learn from each other how to ‘fail better’ (Beckett via Keith, 2005). With this in mind, we ask presenters to give a brief presentation followed by a set of 3-5 questions that emerge from their work for group discussion.

Emma Jackson, Goldsmiths, University of London

Agata Lisiak, Humboldt University Berlin