Certain things are inherent to our human life worlds regardless of where we come from and whether we are aware of them or not. Among them are the aspirations to identify with people and the places we inhabit, to narrate our life histories and to be heard. Creative expression, too, is inherent to every human life that strives to make sense of its complex events and circumstances. In contemporary thinking, where the sense of self is fragmented and in flux, where the mainstream narratives of the past are due for deconstruction and counter-narration, it is the critical and the social that can provide clarity and sense-making. One attempts to see the self and the world as collectively constructed and plural in meanings. We ought to listen to the stories of the others “deconstructively” departing from “not-knowing”, rather than adhering to our preconceived ideas.
The challenge brought to the forefront of research in human contexts is to value and constantly re-examine the relationship between the storyteller and the listener, and between the knower and the knowledge. This study attempts at mapping a research field where the complexity of identities, narratives, contexts, places, and practices is embraced rather than simplified. It employs arts-based and reflexive approaches to research, working in a landscape of six global communities of place and practice and aiming at academic, artistic and general public audiences. It treads gently and ethically, shaping itself every step of the way.
Daria Akimenko’s research and artistic interests lie in communities of practice, place and placelessness, in migratory practices and related identity work that occurs individually and collectively.