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Global Challenges’ Creative Turn: A workshop exploring the possibilities and practicalities of creative research methods and practices in the Global South

  • Woburn Room Senate House, University of London Malet St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HU UK (map)
Stacking of a brick-kiln in Cambodia by  Thomas Cristofoletti  for the Blood Bricks project

Stacking of a brick-kiln in Cambodia by Thomas Cristofoletti for the Blood Bricks project

One of the goals of the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund is to stimulate cross-research council research practices that see social scientists collaborating with arts and humanities researchers, and bringing methods and practices from the arts and humanities to bear on urgent problems in the Global South.

Yet for many social scientists – from Geographers to Development Scholars – the possibilities but also the challenges of using arts and humanities, and specifically creative research methods and practices are not always clear. In the workshop a series of activities, talks, and panels aims to address this.

The workshop builds on what has been called the ‘Creative Turn’. Geography’s creative turn, like that within sociology, archeology and anthropology, has seen a range of different relations between research and creative practices (art, creative writing, theatre, photography, film-making and so on). These include scholars, commissioning artists and photographers to make work in response to their research; researchers who use creative practices as part of participatory research (video, street theatre, photography); the incorporation of creative practitioners as part of the research team, valuing their knowledge making as part of the research process; as well as researchers who develop their own creative skills (photography, drawing, dancing) as part of their research methods.

This workshop will introduce a series of examples of the ‘Creative Turn’ in Global South research and use these to explore the possibilities of these research practices; the challenges and pitfalls that researchers might face; as well as some of the practicalities of applying for and doing this kind of research.

This workshop is a collaboration between researchers in the Department for Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London: namely, the ESRC-DFID funded study ‘Blood Bricks: Examining the Climate Change-Modern Slavery Nexus in the Cambodian Construction Industry' and the Centre for the GeoHumanities.

The event will include a visit to The Building Centre and discussion of the exhibition ‘Blood Bricks: Untold Stories of Modern Slavery and Climate Change from Cambodia’. We are delighted that the project’s photographer and videographer Thomas Cristofoletti will be joining us for the event from Cambodia. The workshop will include time to reflect with Thomas and the rest of the project team on the development of the exhibition.



9.30 – 10.30 am INTRODUCTIONS led by Professor Katherine Brickell.

10.30 – 10.45 COFFEE BREAK 

10.45 – 11.15 OVERVIEW of the contested terrain of how the arts and social sciences can work together and how this fits into the GCRF by Professor Harriet Hawkins.

11.15 – 12.45:  ACTIVITY Creative arts and social research: a meeting of minds? Group activity discussing research scenarios and how the arts can be embedded within/ contribute to their development.

LUNCH 12.45-1.30PM. 

1.30-2.30pm EXHIBITION VISIT - ‘Blood Bricks: Untold Stories of Modern Slavery and Climate Change from Cambodia’ Building Centre [a ten min walk].  

Coffee is available from ‘Store Street Espresso’ en route to the exhibition, or at the café in ‘The Building Centre’ itself where the exhibition is being held.

2.30- 3.15pm PANEL DISCUSSION Photography and Exhibiting the Global South. This panel discussion, led by Professor Hawkins, will discuss key issues relating to the development of the exhibition with members of the Blood Bricks team including the photographer, Thomas Cristofeletti.

3.15- 4.30pm ACTIVITY. Image workshop: Too beautiful for Social Science? Group activity planning different research outputs using research images, with a focus on the different academic and ethical issues that arise in this exercise.


5pm The Perseverance pub (63 Lambs Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB)