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More in this section 2010/11

Participatory research and learning in the performing arts: A symposium

06/05/2011 (09:00-17:00)


Katrina Carter, Research Assistant

Centre for Creative Collaboration, 16 Acton Street, London (very close to Kings Cross Train Station)
6 May 2011

Participatory research, also referred to as ‘insider research’, is a familiar model in ethnomusicology. The student of music learns about the music of an unfamiliar culture by studying an instrument (or vocal style) and playing alongside experienced practitioners. This competency allows the student-researcher to write about the ‘musical culture’ in question in terms of process, not only product. A researcher is also able to ‘learn about learning’ and gain insights into practices with limited associated verbal explanation. Participation has a place in the study and research of other performing arts as well. Through work-based learning schemes and artists-in-residence, students learn slowly ‘to interpret and respond to cues and events as they take part in social practices. Learners […] make use of the meanings and actions of more expert members of the practice community’. Researchers experience and observe their own and others’ co-participation within artistic encounters.

This inter-disciplinary symposium, part of a PALATINE-funded project on participatory learning and research in the performing arts led by investigators Matthew Isaac Cohen (Drama, RHUL), Tina K. Ramnarine (Music, RHUL) and Henry Stobart (Music, RHUL), is intended to bring together academics from around the UK who use this model for researching and teaching the arts.
The symposium will examine how participatory learning and research is embedded in university curricula and is practiced as a methodology in fieldwork-based studies across the performing arts. Participants will be encouraged to reflect on best practice for participatory learning and research through the scrutiny of case studies, both individual research projects as well as modules and courses using participatory learning and research as a primary methodology. The symposium will investigate the challenges in combining ethnographic and practice-led research and through highlighting apprenticeship-based models of learning question the dominant understanding that students must ‘subvert’ or ‘challenge’ received structures. Major aims are to facilitate the development of participatory learning modules and courses, and develop new possibilities for dialogue between academia and artistic communities outside the university environment.

The day will be made up primarily of a series of roundtable discussions and poster sessions.




11.00  Introduction

Matthew Isaac Cohen; Tina K. Ramnarine and Henry Stobart

11.15  Keynote

John Baily (Goldsmiths, Department of Music)

Lessons from Rahim: An experience of long-term participatory research with an Afghan rubab master

12.00  Panel Session 1

Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, Drama Department)

Windows: Seeing through Reflection

Dick McCaw (Royal Holloway, Drama Department)


13.00 LUNCH

14.00  Keynote

Susan Melrose (Middlesex University, School of Arts)

A Cautionary Note or Two, Amid the Pleasures and Pains of Participation in Performancemaking as Research

14.45  Keynote

Carol Muller (University of Pennsylvania, Department of Music)

"Deliberative Ethnomusicology": Developing a Model for Community Partnership Research.


16.00  Panel Session 2

Ruth Hellier-Tinoco (Winchester University, Department of Performing Arts)

On Experience, Memory, And Becoming-In-The World Through Participatory Research And Learning.

16.30  Performance

Sally Dean

Improvisation Excerpt from Somatic Movement & Costume Research

17.00  Final Discussion


For more information, or to register, please e-mail Katrina.Carter.2009live.rhul.ac.uk.


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