To Think is To Experiment 2011: From Cigdem Esin

To Think is To Experiment:  A Day for Postgraduate Narrative Researchers

The Centre for Narrative Research has been organising the postgraduate research day, To think is To Experiment' for 10 years. This year it was the tenth anniversary of CNR's formation as a research centre at the University of East London. As part of commemorative events, To Think is To Experiment was dedicated to the doctoral research at CNR.

We invited CNR's past and current PhD students to present their narrative work on 18 May 2011. Linda Sandino, Mastoureh Fathi, Solveigh Goett, Gudrun Loehrer, Jacomijne Prins, Denise Proudfoot and Nicola Samson responded our invitation and presented their research.

It was a day full of stimulating presentations and intense conversations on the multiplicities in narrative research. The presentations were rich and thought- provoking in content and form, and revealed the variety of research questions that narrative approaches could be applied to as well as the variety of narrative interpretations.  

Linda Sandino's talk,''Both sides of the story': narrative identity and the curatorial imagination' was the second Siyanda Ndlovu Memorial Lecture. Sandino presented her analysis of a life history interview with a curator of fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum whose work encompasses “radical” forms of curating (radical) fashion within the context of an established, historic museum and collection. While focusing on the concept of 'radical' in this narrative, Sandino explored the function of narrative as a space for reaching meaning.

Mastoureh Fathi's presentation on her doctoral research with educated Iranian women living in Britain revealed the cultural and political complexities involved in translation in the research context. Fathi underlined the argument that these complexities make translation not only linguistic but also a cultural performance of narration.

Textile artist Solveigh Goett told us the stories of her pieces which she collected in her cabinet of domestic wonders. In her project 'Mirabilia Domestica', Goett explored the narratives of small things which create a space for meaning making, memory work, enchantment, evocation and flights of the imagination.

Gudrun Loehrer's research on the depiction of nudity on early 19th-Century American paper money presented an interdisciplinary perspective that brought together political, historical and narrative arguments.

Jacomijne Prins’ research on intra-group identity construction and negotiation among Dutch-Moroccan young adults led to an interesting discussion on the continuous re-construction of narratives within interaction in research context.   

Denise Proudfoots presentation focused on her research story in which she listened to narratives of mothers living with HIV in Ireland. Her research aims to explore the challenges faced by the mothers with HIV. Several interesting questions were raised about the influence of these challenges on the constitution of stories.    

Nicola Samson presented some of the issues that have arisen for her as a narrative researcher who undertook life story interviews with neighbours in her street for her research on women’s experience of belonging.

Among others, there was one narrative argument that permeated through all presentations and following discussions. That was the context that makes all the analysed narratives be heard and analysed in particular moments of history. What constitutes narratives and how narratives are constructed in research contexts were the questions that were repeatedly exchanged between speakers and participants of the event.

Similar to previous years, the tenth To Think is to Experiment served as a constructive space in which postgraduate narrative researchers with different experiences and approaches exchanged ideas and questions.

All programmes and abstracts can be viewed on the CNR website.



Published by corinnesquire

Corinne Squire is Professor of Social Sciences and Co-Director, Centre for Narrative Research, at University of East London

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