The boomerang-project.org.uk was formed in 2009 when academics from Liverpool John Moores University, University of Hull, University of Bristol and Leeds Beckett University formed a Network for Performative Research in Sport & Physical Activity. Unsurprisingly, given their creative interests, skills and backgrounds, the network soon moved beyond performative methodologies and the fields of sport and physical activity. The network now supports a variety of learning environments including workshops, seminars and conferences using this site to publicise and manage events.
The BOOMERANG-PROJECT is now an independent, collaborative, virtual community of researchers seeking to support and develop better approaches to conduct and communicate research, knowledge, and learning. While our research is often published in peer-reviewed journals it is also likely to presented or performed in ways and/or on platforms that are accessible to the public, and via mediums that are accessible, such as through stories, poems, songs, performances, plays, films, documentaries, workshops, festivals and conferences.
Arts Based Research
Much of the research we participate in is underpinned by arts based methodologies. Our understanding of arts based approaches to research and communication owes much to Educationists like the late Elliot Eisner. He argued the role of education was to develop artists. Importantly, rather than restricting the terms “artistry” and “artist” to fine art and those painters who create paintings, arts based approaches are used in the service of expanding the ideas, sensibilities, skills, and imagination of all individuals in order that they go on:
‘to create work that is well proportioned, skilfully executed, and imaginative, regardless of the domain in which an individual works.’
The most valuable tribute to bestow on an individual, Elliot suggested, was to say that
‘he or she is an artist whether as a carpenter or a surgeon, a cook or an engineer, a physicist or a teacher. The fine arts have no monopoly on the art’.
Our aim is to support, collaborate, showcase, discuss and learn how to conduct research in more informed, caring, collaborative, community focussed and artistic ways and to become better at sharing and communicating what we learn.
Boomerang is a metaphor to think about how we share and communicate research and then listen and attend to how our co/participants, communities respond. We release our research -like a boomerang released into the sky- into the great unknown, and then what? Many of us don’t know what happens to that knowledge. It takes a great deal of skill and space to throw a boomerang in a way that makes it curve and return. We’d like to know how, ‘what have shared’ (our research) influences or makes a difference within our communities or to participants and people like them. Hence a cycle of releasing/going/sending out, sharing and then receiving into our hands the feedback, listening, attending, a ‘returning to’ is also important.
We have also been inspired by the Aboriginal people who creatively and artfully developed the boomerang. The symbol acts a reminder of the way western ideology has damaged and inflicted harm on many native, first nation and Aboriginal people. Not so far from home decades of research also failed to adequately represent women, minority and ethnic groups. The boomerang is a reminder to extend our horizons of interest.