Kip Jones

KIP JONES, an American by birth, has been studying and working in the UK for more than 15 years.
Under the umbrella term of 'arts-based research', his main efforts have involved developing tools
from the arts and humanities for use by social scientists in research and its impact on a wider
public or a Perfomative Social Science.

Jones is Reader in Performative Social Science and Director of the Centre for Qualitative Research
at Bournemouth University. Kip has produced films and written many articles for academic
journals and authored chapters for books on topics such as masculinity, ageing and rurality,
and older LGBT citizens. His ground-breaking use of qualitative methods, including
biography and auto-ethnography, and the use of tools from the arts in social science research and
dissemination are well-known.

Jones acted as Author and Executive Producer of
the award-winning short film,
RUFUS STONE, funded by Research Councils UK.
The film is now available for
free viewing on the Internet and has been
viewed by more than 11,000 people in 150
countries over the past year alone.

Areas of expertise
• Close relationships, culture and ethnicity
• Social psychology, sociology
• Ageing, self and identity
• Interpersonal processes, personality,
individual differences,
social networks, prejudice and stereotyping
• Sexuality and sexual orientation
• Creativity and the use of the
arts in Social Science

Media experience
His work has been reported widely
in the media, including:
BBC Radio 4,BBC TV news,Times
Higher Education, Sunday New
York Times, International
Herald-Tribune
and The Independent.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Proustifications or Embracing the Journey

The first time I went to France (by way of winning a small prize) I was teeming with anticipation and a sense of adventure. I had never been away from my native America before and was filled with expectations. If I lived frugally, I surmised at the time, I would be able to stay in Paris for more than three months. I prepared for, consequently, the luxury of exploring Paris in an unhurried way that would allow the city and its occupants to reveal themselves to me in a natural, unfolding way.

Paris unveiled itself to me gradually. I spent a lot of time camped out in cafés, watching and meeting people. It was in observing passers-by that I particularly noticed other Americans on ‘holiday abroad’ charging from place to place, trying desperately to make all the appropriate stops at the necessary high spots of Paris, attempting to take everything in and doing all this within a very short visit. In the throws of this often-frantic process, my countrymen and women would frequently become quite annoyed with the Parisian French. Annoyed because they (the French) did not speak English, annoyed because their ways of doing things –their culture—was not the same as the American way. Surely they (the French Parisians) understood that they (the Americans) had a lot to accomplish in a short time and that they (the French and their culture) were only making the process that much more difficult!

The reality of the experiences of many Americans abroad is subsequently reinvented when they return home. Like art museum visitors who are more comfortable with the reproductions found in the museum shop (they can buy them) than the art in the galleries, the narratives of Americans’ trips abroad are typically reconstructed through photographs stateside. They are, habitually, not assured that their journey was a success until they get the photos back from processing and can reconstruct the story of their journey into a perceived reality. The defining moment, crucial to their reconstruction of reality, is the moment when they are reassured that they visited, in this instance, the right Paris. This is accomplished when family and friends agree that yes, they were at the right places because those were the same places that they too visited or certainly would visit. At last, after a long journey fraught with unexpected inconveniences, language barriers, unfamiliar terrain and food, peppered with what many American tourists misconstrue as the French penchant for rudeness, they can finally sleep restfully in their American beds. Paris was a success.

Paris for me was different from that. Perhaps it was the luxury of the time available to me to slow my pace down to fit the pace of Parisian life. Perhaps it was by finding the timeframe in which to generate discovery and allow Paris to reveal itself to me. I recall that at the end of my stay there, I did rush around to some of the tourist spots that I had never bothered to visit (even the Louvre, I must admit!) and snap photos of myself posed in front of miscellaneous monuments of French culture. I did this, ironically, in order to have photos to show family and friends back home. Yes, they too might wonder if I had ever been to Paris at all, if I had no photos of the places they had attended on their trips.

A few days before my departure from France my lover at the time, whom I had met in a Parisian café, said, “You haven’t even been outside of Paris the whole time you’ve been here! We must take the train to Versailles!” We departed the following morning, arriving at Versailles in a light but steady rain. We walked the crunchy gravel grounds of Versailles for a while, noted the long queues for the palace and made a dash back to the village of Versailles and a small bistro/café. We sat for hours at a table talking, just under a window, the rain beating its steady rhythm on the leaded panes. It was not exactly Madeleines dipped in tea, but it very well might have been. We sipped slowly these last moments, savouring them for memories. We both knew that the palace of Versailles would have to wait for another time; the pain of imminent separation was far more monumental than any French palace could be. I have been glad of that day since, and retell the story often.

When one approaches a journey slowly and with a sense of expectation at every turn, the journey is never really completed. Fortunately, I was able to return to Paris many times after that first visit. I believe today that it was the way I approached my first stay that provided the longing to return, the opportunities to return.

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