‘My Story is An Opening to Another World’: poetic practical theology, lived experiences, and transformation

Radford, Clare Louise (2019) ‘My Story is An Opening to Another World’: poetic practical theology, lived experiences, and transformation. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

In this thesis I critically examine practices of sharing lived experiences for transforming social and political relations. To do so, I construct a poetic approach to practical theology in order to address how creative expressions of everyday lived experiences of marginalisation interrupt and reshape theological practices and public life. This work is based upon my creative, collaborative research with Poverty Truth Commission over several years to examine their practices of sharing lived experience stories in order to address poverty and inequality. Key to the work is a reflexive consideration of my position as a researcher in gathering, interpreting, and representing lived experiences in this thesis.
Beginning in the work of Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Rebecca Chopp, and Mayra Rivera, the thesis engages a responsiveness to who and what has been traditionally excluded from theological practices of meaning-making, and to the corporeal, imaginative, and sacred nature of creative practices of sharing lived experiences. I develop these concerns through engaging with critiques of where practical theological research recuperates lived experiences of poverty and marginalisation into broad, general categories and containers. Drawing on poetic approaches I construct a practical theological methodology of passionate, ambivalent making with and through embodied, everyday lived experiences.
Examining the claims to transformation in qualitative research methods, I detail the creative qualitative and collaborative research methods used for engaging with Poverty Truth Commission. An outline of this research process and the ethical issues are provided. I present the material gathered in this research through ethnographic and autoethnographic writing reflecting on the development of the creative, collaborative project ‘Connecting Stories’, and also the creative product – an interactive exhibition.
The findings from this research highlight the ‘cultures of disbelief and judgement’ at work in the age of austerity in the UK, cultures impacting access to material resources and how people’s stories are heard in public. I argue that by holding open space for particular and plural lived experiences and affirming the meaning-making capacities of marginalised communities, poetic practices can disrupt and reshape these cultures. I draw together this
thesis through a series of concluding, interrupting, and transforming moves, reflecting on practices of making theology through ongoing and fragile experiences and offering an understanding of the everyday nature of transformation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: practical theology, poetics, creative arts-based methods, collaborative research, poverty, lived experience, marginalisation, austerity, feminist, postcolonial, transformation.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Funder's Name: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Walton, Professor Heather
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Dr Clare Louise Radford
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-74305
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2019 09:14
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2019 14:31
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.74305
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/74305
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