As ideas and understandings grow about what counts as research, and what can be thought of as data, new theorizations about research practices and methodologies also develop and expand. For example, arts based, post-qualitative inquiry can offer up new thinking about big issues such as social justice and education and can be used investigatively and pedagogically to gain greater knowledge of the complexities of pressing and often difficult contemporary social issues.
Over the past four years, I have created a graphic novel as a way of experimenting with arts based, post-qualitative inquiry to explore how visual texts might operate as data and how research can be generative and continuous and not always preoccupied with finding a fixed answer or simple conclusion to a straightforward question. I produced a graphic novel to help expose how arts based, post-qualitative research might take place, how conventions about ‘data’ are contested and reimagined, and how, in post-qualitative inquiry, assumptions and fixed ideas about the world can be dismantled and rethought.
Yanke and Catal Yst (pronounced Yan-kur and Cattal-yist) focuses on refugeeism and asylum in the contemporary context. The imagined life of a young boy, fleeing war in his home country is told through a collection of images that loosely resemble a graphic novel. Through graphic novelling, the imagined life of a fictional character is constructed to explore issues and concepts of refugeeism, asylum, childhood, persecution.
In the Yanke and Catal Yst project art and drawing becomes generative and affective post-qualitative inquiry: concepts of what counts as research ‘data’ are interrogated, notions of empiricism are challenged and the role of the researcher, as producer and investigator are theorised on.
I hope that the graphic novel, as arts based, post-qualitative inquiry be considered ‘beyond’ a piece of creative art: arts as research can be adopted in diverse fields including social sciences, education, health sciences, and liberal arts etc. Undertaking arts based, post-qualitative inquiry can open up ways of thinking and understanding about many different issues, and in ways that generate as well as accommodate knowledge that is difficult to contain within more regulated methods of analysis. The novel offers a challenge to the conventions of arts practices in education contexts (including school-based arts practices and undergraduate teacher education arts practices) and suggests how post-qualitative theories enable the arts to ‘break out’ of particular Modernist habits where the aim is to master and perfect a cache of appropriate art making skills and to gain knowledge of styles and movements. The novel transcends reductive classification and dismantles the hierarchies between material, metaphysical, corporeal and intellectual knowing.