(Toward) Sound Research Practice

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  • Title: (Toward) Sound Research Practice: Podcast-Building as Modelling Relational Sensibilities at the Water-Climate Change Nexus in Cape Town
  • Author(s): Sarah Van Borek, Anna James
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts
  • Keywords: Podcast, Water, Climate Change, South Africa, Relational, Social Movement Learning, Contested Narratives, Arts-Based Inquiry
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2326-9987 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-1787 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2326-9987/CGP/v14i01/9-27
  • Citation: Van Borek, Sarah, and Anna James. 2019. "(Toward) Sound Research Practice: Podcast-Building as Modelling Relational Sensibilities at the Water-Climate Change Nexus in Cape Town." The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts 14 (1): 9-27. doi:10.18848/2326-9987/CGP/v14i01/9-27.
  • Extent: 19 pages

Abstract

With roots in past injustice and a future of complex social-ecological-economic-political situations, climate change calls for innovative ways to understand the evolving issues in real time and to continue to mobilise action, resources, and community around this. We, as arts-based researchers, focus on the climate change related drought in Cape Town, the city that almost ran out of water in early 2018. We embarked on a praxis process of co-producing a socially-engaged podcast series. We harnessed this medium to facilitate a form of social learning about this water crisis and as a device for uncovering the contested narratives of lived experiences of this water crisis. Our overarching goal was to support a more just and sustainable relationship with water in and beyond the crisis. We took an arts-based, relational approach to inquiry, with inquiry being both research and learning. This paper constitutes an important critical reflection on the process thus far to inform how we take this podcast into the future. We provide some context to the Cape Town water crisis and describe the building of DayOne’s foundational four episodes as our research methodology. We then analyse the podcast-building process with support from literature on the podcast genre, social movement learning, and relational pedagogy. We outline why we feel relational sensibilities can contribute to social and ecological justice and how social practice podcast-building might help to cultivate these. We conclude by presenting three tensions to explore the question: how do we build podcasts in and with Cape Town as a tool for relational research-communication-education-action around urban water while best utilising the unique strengths of the podcast genre? These tensions are: listener-host intimacy versus sufficient contextual information; the affective power of raw audio versus the mediating power of editing audio; and the disruption versus reproduction of dominant narratives through sharing personal stories.