Critical Approaches to Arts-Based Research

Special Edition of UNESCO Observatory refereed e-journal, Multidisciplinary Research in the Artsunesco-obs

Call for Papers: Critical approaches to arts-based research

Arts based research and its proponents have come a long way in the past few years.  Whether framed as arts-informed practices, practice-led research or applied research, it is certainly interesting times for those working at the nexus of arts, research and scholarly thought.  There has been an unprecedented proliferation of discourses and approaches and we are continuing to move away from a defence of arts based research and its ‘validity’ and toward a celebration of this proliferation of diverse ways of knowing and doing. This ‘coming of age’ of (what we here call) ABR opens new possibilities for critically theorising and epistemologically interrogating deeper understandings of its works and workings.


Leavy and Cahnmann-Taylor  (most recently), and McNiff, Eisner and others (for longer), have urged us to move beyond an either/or positioning in relation to scientific paradigms that still dominate academic research and research environments.  Rolling (2010) further reminds us that “arts based research methodologies are not analysed as an alternative to social science or historical methods….[but rather] enacted along a spectrum between both scientific and artistic ways of comprehending the human experience and doing productive cultural work” (p 103). Yet the Achilles heel of ABR remains its under-theorisation.  This issue seeks to address a gap in arts-based research to understanding its full potential as an alternate conceptual and research paradigm, through rigourous critical approaches.


This Special Issue celebrates the opening of new doors in theorising innovative arts-based research.  We welcome contributions from a range of global contexts, submission formats, and across all disciplines. We avoid any attempt to codify or limit the parameters of what contemporary arts based research is or can be.  Indeed we seek the opposite: to highlight its ever-expanding possibilities.


We invite contributors to embrace what Rolling calls “art for scholarship’s sake” (2010, p 102), suggesting tangible moves not only toward new methods and methodologies, but toward shifts of paradigm.  From visual, musical and other performative methods to a slippage of arts based research into interdisciplinary merging like visual sociology (Taylor 2013), this volume attempts to explore the ways in which arts based research is moving beyond a lack of critical interrogation.   Indeed, we believe that ABR will only rhizomatically expand under such scrutiny, and this volume is a recognition of this new potential.

This special edition aims to encourage critical analysis and dialogue about:

(a)   the objects and subjects of arts based research for the 21st century;

(b)   poststructuralist, posthuman and other critical approaches to arts based research;

(c)    the interdisciplinary application of performative and practice-led research in transferable (methodological) models.

We invite contributions that connect analysis with applied practice in any form or format. We invite contributions from those who find arts based research problematic as well as productive. We also seek contributions that describe efforts to redefine the boundaries of ABR in the early 21st century, by such agents as researchers, activists, teachers, young people, artists and policymakers.  We strongly encourage digital assets as submissions or part thereof.

We are particularly interested in topics such as:

–          formal, informal and alternate sites of arts-led research in education

–          power, governmentality and the arts

–          new and emerging methodological perspectives

–          imagination and creativity as practice-led methods

–          affect and memory in ABR

–          virtual / online ABR as embodied practice

–          cultural / corporeal geographies of arts based research

–          visual sociology and other hybrids

–          zombie arts as institutional liberatory practice

All submissions will be double-blind peer reviewed. This journal uses Harvard stystem for referencing, and full STYLE GUIDELINES are available on the website. Full paper submissions of up to 8000 words (all inclusive) are DUE 2ND JUNE 2014 to one of the two guest editors:

Dr Anne Harris, Monash University at:

Or Dr Mary Ann Hunter, University of Tasmania at:

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