Ethics and Participation in Art: Reading the Migration Library and other methods
This dissertation portfolio provides a focused—albeit methodologically diverse—review of research ethics in the context of participatory art, including research-creation and social art practices. Focusing on a case of intense ethical demand involving the creative representation of people who are making asylum and refugee claims, this project makes a unique contribution to research on research ethics as it applies to arts-based projects. This portfolio includes a set of stand-alone manuscripts linked by creative texts that situate the work in both creative and theoretical contexts. The manuscripts include a critical review of the development of research ethics review processes for research-creation in Canada; a commentary on aesthetic approaches to ethics in participatory art following the ethical turn in philosophy; and an artist statement for a new and ongoing research-creation project called Reading the Migration Library. The poetic and hybrid-form texts that are interwoven with the manuscripts situate the work in the context of Indigenous resurgence inside of academia, leading up to and following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and concomitant with recent revelations of research misconduct directly affecting Indigenous communities and individuals. Using alternate forms of academic writing including poetry and autoethnography, this portfolio is a contribution to methodological experimentation in cultural studies and arts-based research. The multiple methods employed demonstrate how critical and creative researchers’ ethical engagement in settings of intense ethical demand is deepened and enhanced through methodological antecedents including disjunctures, epistolary and first-person forms, genealogy, place-based theories, refusal, relationality, and strategic silences. The fieldwork, including Reading the Migration Library, was completed during 2016 and 2017 with artists and arts organizers associated with the Immigration/Emigration artists-in-residence program of Santa Fe Art Institute in New Mexico. The research also included partnership with cultural groups in the cities of New Westminster and Vancouver in British Columbia.