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How do newly arrived international students develop meaningful attachments to and emplaced knowledge of their new city?

Stevenson, Andrew (2014) How do newly arrived international students develop meaningful attachments to and emplaced knowledge of their new city? Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Psychological theory has traditionally yielded limited and predominantly cognitivist approaches to place and its perception. This thesis applies non-representational and phenomenological approaches to the study of place and space. It employs participatory sensory ethnography as a method for researching narratives of place-making and creative responses to a new city. Place and space theory portrays places as inseparable from meanings invested in them (Thrift, 2008), seeing cities as collections of stories, rather than as fixed locations. They are made by the performative engagements of those who move through them (Ingold, 2000). In researching place making with a cohort of collaborators that came from 16 internationally diverse new arrivals to Manchester and Salford I have curated a series of participatory collaborations from which diverse stories necessarily emerged. These collaborations are modeled on existing sensory modalities (Pink, 2009), creative and technological habits and preferred mobilities of the collaborators. Initially ascertaining the preferences of each collaborator, participants subsequently took the lead in designing creative responses to their new home city. Collaborations included engagements such as walking interviews, the recording of soundscape compositions, participatory photography and the generation of other artefacts. These works reflect an ethical relationship between researcher and participant wherein creativity emerges from a genuine willingness by all parties to use existing practices to respond to a new setting (Shotter, 2008). They yielded sensuous trails that go beyond mere academic reportage. The accumulation of excavated artefacts, maps, films, photographs and short stories supplement the conventional paraphernalia of academic enquiry. They illustrate joint actions (Shotter, 2008) that reflect genuine ethical collaborations. Using these of these collaborative works, I have constructed a critique of existing psychological theories of space and place, highlighting forms of performatively, corporeally, co-productively, relational and sensory place perception.

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