Performative Methodologies: Geographies of Emotion and Affect in Digital Storytelling Workshops
Bliss, E. (2015). Performative Methodologies: Geographies of Emotion and Affect in Digital Storytelling Workshops (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9354
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9354
This thesis advocates digital storytelling as a geographical methodology to understand how emotion and affect are produced. Digital storytelling is a flexible and workshopped methodology that captures experimental, creative and imaginative performances of emotion and affect. Through digital storytelling geographers may build understandings of how emotion and affect are experienced individually and collectively. I use 11 digital storytelling workshops, with more than 100 participants, as the primary sites for my research. The workshops were conducted in the United States and New Zealand and were modelled on the practice established by the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, California, United States. It is argued that digital storytelling workshops co-create emotion, affect, people and place. Individual and group interviews, reflexive autobiographical journal writing, and digital storytelling workshop training, participation, and observing are used to access emotion and affect in digital storytelling workshops. A combination of qualitative research methods and critical social theories are used to highlight embodied, emotional and affectual geographies. Three findings frame my discussion. First, digital storytelling workshops are performative spaces for the staging and circulation of emotion and affect. The concepts of infrastructure, improvisation, and intimacy are critical for understanding the dynamic nature of emotion and affect in digital storytelling workshops. Second, a focus on relationality allows for an examination of psychotherapeutic practice and the transformative capacity of digital storytelling workshops. Workshop spaces are understood as ‘connective mediums’ in which a third position – the gap between the flow of emotions and the representation of that experience - is possible. Third, voice in digital storytelling is a political process of speaking and listening. A focus on voice permits an exploration of the acoustic politics of emotion and affect at individual and collective spatial scales. Digital storytelling workshops facilitate processes of seeing, hearing and experiencing emotion and affect as a way of interpreting the geographical worlds of research participants. The Center for Digital Storytelling’s model incorporates a commitment to social justice that honours and values emotional knowledge. As a practice-based research methodology digital storytelling requires researchers to be reflexive and negotiate their multiply layered ethical positionings. As geographers continue to experiment with innovative ways of conducting research, the messiness of digital storytelling can contribute to methodological debates about the ‘doing’ of emotion and affect in geographical research.
University of Waikato
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