Forum: Qualitative Social Research (May 2015)

Immersion, Embodiment, and Imagination: Moving Beyond an Aesthetic of Objectivity in Research-Informed Performance in Health

  • Julia Gray,
  • Pia C. Kontos

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 2


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Growing numbers of qualitative health researchers of diverse disciplinary backgrounds are experimenting with various forms of performance (e.g., film, live theater, dance) as innovative approaches to engage broader communities in complex and critical ways with research. Despite this emerging alliance between performance and research, much of research-informed performance work is informed by an "aesthetic of objectivity," which assumes a linear trajectory between research findings and performance, and minimizes the relevance of aesthetic interpretation, which we argue is fundamental to achieving critical research-informed performative work. To move beyond this aesthetic of objectivity, we will explore our development of a research-informed film, "Fit for Dialysis." We argue that embracing the role of aesthetics, imagination, and embodiment more fully is essential to achieving the full interactive, educational, and emancipatory potential of the alliance between performance and research. URN: