Emotions and Fieldwork

With Nughmana Mirza and Amanda Ptolomey (University of Glasgow) / April 2021 – present.

How does emotion relate to the doing of research? How do we as researchers locate, articulate, navigate and do emotions in the field?

Emotion intersects the doing of academic research at numerous and diverse points across the research process. It guides researchers towards and away from the researching of topics; it shapes the conditions and possibilities of fieldwork through which data can emerge; and it can be used to engage audiences towards their appreciation of new understandings and solutions. At each of these points, and many between, through both positive and negative registers, emotion shapes the research act and the knowledge it produces, in powerful and meaningful ways. Yet, all too often the subjective, personal and emotional factors which shape research are, at best, underappreciated and at worst, quarantined from the research act. Arguably this issue is most pointed for doctoral and early career researchers (ECRs) whose inauguration into academic research cultures can be marked by a rapid, opening up unto new ways of knowing, including navigating a hidden curriculum of acceptable academic identities.

Working with a small, interdisciplinary group of ECRs through a zine-making workshop and sharing symposium, this research takes a community of practice approach to explore the ways in which emotion might be framed more visibly and positively within our research cultures. In considering together the ways in which emotion is and might be located, articulated, navigated and done within research, the aim is to position emotion as far more diverse and heterogeneous within the research field. Furthermore, in reclaiming the right for research to be a personal and emotional act, we hope to support more diverse and impactful ways of doing research and communicating it with our broader publics, helping us to reimagine research culture in relation to needs and drivers beyond the academy.