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Using ‘the body’ as an ‘instrument of research’: kimch’i and pavlova

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Abstract

Often researchers position themselves in relation to race, age and gender, but the body is less often discussed as an actual ‘instrument of research’. We aim to extend thinking on this point by reflecting on a project we conducted on migrant women and food in New Zealand. We present a vignette as an example of how we used our bodies as ‘instruments of research’ at a ‘shared lunch’ attended by new migrants from a range of different countries. At the lunch some combined on their plates spicy dishes such as kimch’i (fermented vegetables) and sweet dishes such as pavlova (a meringue dessert). For others this combination prompted feelings of disgust. We conclude that the body is a primary tool through which all interactions and emotions filter in accessing research subjects and their geographies.

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