Affect, Knowledge and Embodiment workshop

Affect, Knowledge and Embodiment is a critical feminist arts/research workshop series (and zine!) lead by myself (Ash Watson, postdoc with the Vitalities Lab) and my colleagues Laura Rodriguez Castro (Griffith Uni) and Samantha Trayhurn (WSU).

We have run four workshops since late 2018: at Monash University in Melbourne, at Griffith University in Brisbane, at the Australian National University in Canberra, and most recently at the University of Melbourne.

On Tuesday February 18, 2020, we were hosted by the School of Political and Social Science and the HSIF at Melbourne – thanks to Ash Barnwell and Signe Ravn for the invitation, and Emma Dutton for her help putting the day together.

In each AKE workshop, we explore ways of practically extending critical and feminist social research with art – specifically with blackout poetry, participatory visual methods, sociological fiction writing and, of course, zine making. These arts practices are valuable for opening up how we critically explore, analyse, collaborate on, and share experiences and understandings of the social world.

The day is very hands on – participants experiment with each of the creative methods we introduce to explore the themes of affect, knowledge, and embodiment. The result is a collaborative zine made on the day, a ‘curated sociology’ of photography, collage and writing interventions, which is published with Frances St Press (my indie press).

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At each workshop, we engage with a key piece of writing by writers and scholars who have been influential in our own practices. So far we have drawn on Audre Lorde, Sara Ahmed, and Quinn Eades. At the University of Melbourne AKE workshop, we drew an excerpt from Gloria Anzaldúa and AnaLouise Keating’s this bridge we call home (2002).

Participants cut, pasted, ripped, drew, wrote, scribbled, peeled, pressed and stamped. They made use of provided quotes from the reading (like those below), and transformed provided poems into new works of their own.

  • ‘Honoring people’s otherness, las nepantleras advocate a “nos/otras” position—an alliance between “us” and “others.” In nos/otras, the “us” is divided in two, the slash in the middle representing the bridge—the best mutuality we can hope for at the moment’
  • ‘Empowerment is the bodily feeling of being able to connect with inner voices/resources (images, symbols, beliefs, memories) during periods of stillness, silence, and deep listening or with kindred others in collective actions’
  • ‘You look beyond the illusion of separate interests to a shared interest—you’re in this together, no one’s an isolated unit’
  • ‘Through the act of writing you call, like the ancient chamana, the scattered pieces of your soul back to your body’
  • ‘Éste quehacer—internal work coupled with commitment to struggle for social transformation—changes your relationship to your body, and, in turn, to other bodies and to the world. And when that happens, you change the world’
  • ‘Change requires more than words on a page—it takes perseverance, creative ingenuity, and acts of love’ (Anzaldúa and Keating 2002)

As we say in the editorial introduction to volume #4 of AKE Zine, when we started the workshop series we envisioned that the zine-making process would allow people to break traditional academic boundaries, to cross bridges through creative practice. With the fourth volume we wanted to push these boundaries further inspired by the rebellious herstories of zine-making and feminisms.

Read all the editions of AKE Zine online at francesstreetpress.com/ake-zine. See our tweets from events using #AKEzine.

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Published by Ashleigh Watson

Sociologist and writer

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