The invisible process of research

by Gaia Del Negro, Silvia Luraschi and Cinzia Delorenzi with Dalia Yemaya El Saadany

papers with research notes on a table

Our research revolves around “hosting others” and has the aim to translate a performance by Cinzia, the artist. Please read our earlier blog entry from 13th July. The artist chose to offer the participants three elements to translate from her performance: two poems, threads, and a somatic experience with microbiota. After the first workshop in June, where Cinzia conducted us to experiment with these three elements, during the summer the participants translated one of the two poems into words, image, video, or performance. The first workshop had suggested to Cinzia the possibility of using a particular intertwining of threads connecting one tree trunk with another, to try to enter it, move, dance,

investigating the sense of limit, boundary, porosity of the membrane, between an inside and an out.

In the autumn we organised a second workshop in a public park in Milan, but most of the participants could not attend. We are all busy in the city. The three of us had the impression that we did not give enough time to the process, we felt the pressure to be productive even if we were largely ahead with the time of the project. So we decided to meet in a small group at a café to reflect on the process and share ideas for the future of our project. We invited those who could come to meet us not for a workshop but for a reflexive meeting in an informal setting, by chance an ugly café in the suburbs with a group of Arabic women talking loudly next to us, and a little Chinese child walking about curiously. One of our co-researchers participated in the meeting, Dalia, a social worker with a migratory background.

We talked about our experience of the research so far, the European framework, the next steps in the research, and our desire to propose a more participatory approach (example: collective writing of abstract and papers, collective analysis of the materials). From this conversation, we shifted to a more personal dimension where we shared how and what this project was affecting us:

how did this experience of research translate into our lived lives, professionally and personally?

Dalia realised that she acted as a kind of ‘translator’ in her work, because every day she tries to translate the procedures of the court for the protection of minors in the relationship with children and their families. Furthermore we translate continuously and most of the time we do it unconsciously: our actions and our educational practices seem to be the translation of what we are and the inputs we receive. Gaia spoke about keeping open the space of meaning in inter-language communication and the excitement of translating an ‘English seed’ into her present home context. Silvia told us about helping youth reflect on the words they use to speak about themselves, sometimes very harsh, and that learning English for her is an invisible process that takes time and struggle.

We decided to ask one of the participants who has a studio (LachesiLAB, atelier artistico, via Porpora 43/47, Milano – MM 1-2 Loreto [Google Maps]) to rent it for a few hours to invite the participants/co-researchers for a session of analysis of the translations produced in the group, before thinking to organize the second workshop.

The process and translations generated so far will be brought to the next Life History and Biography Network conference in March 2022, hopefully with (some of) the participants.

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