Embodied Methodologies: The Body as Research Instrument

Presenter(s): Eline Kieft

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This series of three videos introduces an embodied epistemology through the moving body. Video 1 discusses the discipline of somatic practices, leading to expanding views on knowledge and perception as based mostly in cognition, to a more integrated view that includes the entire body as potential site of knowing. You can explore this through a movement task in the second video. Moving with Lines and Circles as a pair of spatial concepts will serve as a concrete example of applying the body as research instrument and derive insights through movement. The third video explores the role of the body within a research cycle. This includes practical suggestions for translating your unique research topic into movement, so your research can benefit from and be supported by increased bodily awareness and a movement-approach.

Somatic Introduction and Knowing with the Body

This first video briefly introduces the discipline of somatic practices, leading up to a wider view on knowledge and perception than one only based in cognition. Instead, the entire body can be considered as a way to get to know things.

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Movement Exploration of Lines, Angles and Circles

The second video provides a practice opportunity for you to try out moving with lines and angles versus circles and spirals, and serves as an example to derive insights through movement.

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The body as research instrument in your research cycle

The final video further adapts this concept of the body as instrument to the academic research cycle, including practical suggestions of how you can include bodily awareness and a movement approach in your own research.

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About the author

In her work, Eline combines her passion for anthropology and its qualitative research methodologies, health, spirituality, and her intimate knowledge of the dancer’s body. She studied contemporary dance at CODARTS, Rotterdam and also qualified as a teacher in Movement Medicine. This is an improvisation-based, meditative dance practice for lay participants, with roots in a shamanic paradigm.

In 2013 she completed her PhD in Dance at the University of Roehampton in London, studying the contributions of Movement Medicine to participants’ wellbeing and empowerment. She is currently re-writing her thesis for publication in Lexington’s series on Body and Religion.

As a medical anthropologist, she conducted various studies on health and wellbeing from a social and cultural perspective, working with people with learning disabilities, burnout and depression, and other long-term chronic conditions. In her previous post at The University of Exeter Medical School, she focused on the development and implementation of patient-initiated care in the NHS.

Eline also teaches several unorthodox academic modules for students, including ‘Embodied Research Methodology’ for anthropology students at UCL, and ‘Develop your own Art of Living Toolkit’ for medical students from the University of Plymouth. She offers experiential, tailor-made workshops for healthcare organisations, universities and museums at request.

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