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Sociology of Religion Thematic Group

Creative Methods Workshop

As part of the 2023 TASA Conference at the University of Sydney, the Sociology of Religion Thematic Group is running an interactive workshop on Creative Methods or Arts-based Inquiry in the study of religion, and we are searching for people to be on the panel.

Arts-based inquiry or creative methods help researchers to explore unique ways of gathering, representing, and sharing research. These approaches allow for a variety of voices to speak through the research and thus provide richer understandings of human experience. It is a cross-disciplinary and versatile field that utilizes creative mediums such as art, poetry, photography, film, theatre, and creative writing to engage with and present research.

Date: Thursday 30th November 2023
Time: 9:45am - 12:30pm
Location: Room 310, Eastern Avenue & Auditorium and Theatre Complex, University of Sydney
Cost: TASA Members $5.00 | Non-Members $15.00


PROGRAM: As part of the workshop you will be invited to participate in one of the following activities:


Deborah Lupton
Deborah Lupton

Deborah Lupton is SHARP Professor in the Centre for Social Research in Health and Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Sydney. She leads the Vitalities Lab and the UNSW Node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society.
Ash Watson

Activity 1: Zine making Methods
Facilitated by Ash Watson

This workshop will introduce zine making as a method for social research. Zines are indie publications with a long history as an alternative grassroots platform for community communication and creativity. Featuring diverse work including poetry, collage, personal essays, photography and visual art, the medium offers a rich approach for critical social scholarship by effectively and materially drawing together the personal and political. In this workshop, participants will experiment with zine making by repurposing scholarly and public materials into zines of their own, to think differently about the affective and material encounters that make up social research.

Ash Watson
Dr Ash Watson,
Senior Research Fellow, UNSW

Dr Ash Watson is a Senior Research Fellow at UNSW Sydney, with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society and the Centre for Social Research in Health. Her research uses creative and qualitative methods to explore how people live with digital technologies and imagine the future. She is Fiction Editor of The Sociological Review, author of the novel Into the Sea (Brill, 2020), and the creator/editor of So Fi Zine (, an open access publication for sociological fiction, poetry and visual art.

Activity 2: Witnessing
Facilitated by Samantha Hauw

This activity is normally done in pairs – a mover and a witness - and is adapted from Authentic Movement teacher, Janet Adler (2002) and to include painting as part of a trialogue. The roles of witness and mover are adopted by each partner and a prompt is offered (e.g. our panel theme). As a response to the prompt is explored through physical movement by the mover, the witness tracks the mover’s physical movement, painting/drawing on paper her own inner experience in response. After two minutes, the pair share reflections on their experiences for a further minute. The roles of witness and mover are switched and the activity repeated.

Samantha Hauw,
PhD Student, Deakin University

Samantha Hauw is a PhD student at Deakin University, supervised by Anna Halafoff and Andrew Singleton. She completed an honours thesis on conscious dance and spirituality under the supervision of Dr Anna Halafoff at Deakin, tutors undergraduate students in the sociology of religion, and is a research
assistant on the Australian Spirituality: Wellness, Wellbeing and Risks ARC Project.

Activity 3: Lego Serious Play
Facilitated by Laura Simpson Reeves

LEGO® Serious Play® is a facilitated, small group workshop method. It was originally developed within the Lego Group for strategic thinking in business in the ‘90s and early 2000s, but became open access in 2010. Since then, the method has been adapted and used for coaching, teaching, research, community development, and more. The focus is on storytelling and metaphors, not artistic skills, and so this approach can help participants to externalise abstract concepts, and make the intangible tangible. For research, this can be a great data collection tool to help understand participant perspectives on topics such as identity, poverty, agency, development, and more. The method involves participants going through a four-step process. First, the facilitator poses a challenge or a question. Second, the participants build their answer using Lego bricks. Participants then describe their model to the rest of the group. Finally, participants write a short caption or note to ‘capture’ the model – and maybe even take a photograph. Participants in this workshop will have the opportunity to take part in a mini version of this process, exploring ideas around spirituality and religion.

Laura Simpson Reeves
PhD Candidate, The University of Queensland

Laura Simpson Reeves is a PhD candidate, senior research assistant and sessional academic at The University of Queensland. She is an experienced qualitative social researcher focused on understanding lived experiences of social inequality and inequity. Laura work with vulnerable and marginalised groups at the nexus of culture and disadvantage, especially around ethnicity, gender and sexuality, poverty, and experiences of exclusion and discrimination. Her particular focus and interest in diaspora and issues around belonging, identity, and social cohesion/isolation.

Activity 4: Tarot Reading in Precarious Times
Facilitated by Anastasia Murney

In this participatory session, I will facilitate a collaborative Tarot reading. Tarot is a practice that unfolds through a deck of playing cards, used for divination or entertainment. In a typical reading, the querent (or questioner) comes to the reader with a problem for which they are seeking guidance. This reading will respond to a question based on participant responses to a questionnaire on the general theme of ‘crisis’ (circulated in advance of the session). The reading will unfold through the interpretative labour of myself and the participants. The symbolic language of the Tarot offers a way to recast the problem, to step back from conventional methods of problem-solving and open space for alternative possibilities.

Anastasia Murney
Sessional Lecturer, UNSW

Anastasia Murney is a Sessional Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design on the unceded lands of the Bidjigal and Gadigal people. She holds a PhD in contemporary art theory. Her research examines the intersections between art, activism, and environmental futures. She has published her research in peer reviewed journals such as Third Text (2015), Coils of the Serpent (2023), and Journal of Visual Culture (2023). She is also the Managing Editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art.

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Deakin University

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