The definition of the word “research” can be quite ambiguous, because of the two meanings that the prefix “re-” can have. First, it can mean to repeat something; do it again. Secondly, it can mean to do something with additional emphasis. Moreover, it can even have both meanings simultaneously. To clarify this ambiguity, it may be useful to resort to the etymology of the word, from French rechercher, which can also have two meanings: “to search again; to search for something lost” (62) and/or “to search to know; to search with care, method or reflection” (62). Amidst these two definitions, I would give two examples that would facilitate the understanding of what each definition entails. For the first definition, it would be equivalent to the act of compiling information that has been previously found. For instance, when a teacher in high school asks a student to “research” about global warming, the student does not produce new knowledge, but rather compiles and synthesizes information about the topic. However, the second definition is more common in university settings, as per the example given by Profeta. In such settings, students are expected not only to comprehend previous knowledge on the topic but also to produce new knowledge through research practice, for example.
In the context of dance, the use of the body as a research tool opens new possibilities. As previously explained, there are two types of research. Both of them can take place within or outside the human body. The compilation and synthesis of previous knowledge can happen through the analysis of historical archives focused on movement performances or through the creation of sequences of movements over a period of time (choreography). On the other hand, concerning the production of new knowledge, it may occur in the archives as well, through which researchers may develop new theories and ways to look into dance. Nonetheless, the production of knowledge should not be limited to physical, historical archives. Drawing on Profeta’s idea of envisioning the human body as an archive, one can re-imagine how the creation of knowledge takes place in a rehearsal room, for example, where dancers can bring to life new movements that were not thought of previously. Hence, the production of knowledge can also occur in the field of dance practice, since every newly invented movement/sequence performed by bodies has the potential to resonate in different manners to the audience and, consequently, should be considered new knowledge.
The reason why I find the word ‘research’ useful is because I aspire to become a chemist who hopes to bring aspects of humanities into scientific research. Therefore, for me, understanding what research is in different fields, what it entails, and how it should be presented to different audiences are issues that I have been thinking critically of lately. By engaging with Profeta’s chapter on Research, I have realized that the two types of research that she defined are actually very present in my field of interest. In chemistry (as well as other natural sciences), there are review articles and publications. Review articles are basically compilations that I would read before actually getting into the field or during the process of writing an introduction for a publication. On the other hand, publications would not aim at providing a basic understanding of the topic but rather focus on showing to the reader something new that has been discovered. Learning how to effectively search for, read, and comprehend review articles and actual publications is extremely relevant, and this is the point where I think the humanities meet the sciences. By developing reading, writing and critical thinking skills, I believe that a scientist is able to become a better researcher, who is able to clearly communicate his/her findings to different audiences – and this is, for me, the ultimate goal of research: share knowledge.
Works CitedProfeta, Katherine. 2015. "Research" Dramaturgy in Motion: At Work on Dance and Movement Performance. 61-87. USA: University of Wisconsin,
I’d like to question your statement that “both (types of research) can take place within or outside the human body.” Research can be an noun – it is the product of an action. Research – the verb – is an action. Practice that constitutes research (as in a dance rehearsal or physical exploration) is the type of research where the human body is foregrounded. But the act of retrieval, review and synthesis – which is the other type of research also involves the human body in so many ways — and those are discounted. A body brings an archive of knowledge to the act of researching, the work is processed in the cognitive center of the brain – in fact all research involves acting upon material and moving with it. Your post brings to consciousness how much the physical body is involved in knowledge production and engagement and how often “research” (the noun) is coded to “forget” the body or bodies that produced it. Maybe Profeta’s designation of the two categories of research blur at this line. All research is done by bodies produced by culture and politics. Why is that eliminated in certain disciplines of the academy.