Mission statement (English)

Transdisciplinarity is defined as a working principle, rather than as an empirical given: when conducting research, it should serve as a motto and continuously be verified by all actors involved. The AOL designs research with the purpose of investigating how the arts and arts-based research methods might help us to systematically map and investigate illness perceptions, experiences and behaviors of patients and others involved.

By creating a dialogue between the arts and sciences, the aim of the AOL is to create a space where it is possible to move beyond disciplinary boundaries. Not by presuming that disciplinary boundaries should necessarily be blurred, or altogether dissolved, but by investigating if and to what extent innovation in knowledge production and knowledge distribution can be achieved when the research design and research setting creates opportunities for boundary transgression. The AOL investigates if and to what extent innovation in knowledge production can be produced when the aim is not only to view a similar topic or hypothesis from multiple disciplines (multidisciplinarity), or to transfer theories, methods and practices from the one discipline to the other (interdisciplinariy), but when artists and researchers, in close collaboration with caregivers, patients, family members, and other public/private stakeholders, are in the process of determining, investigating and solving problems collaboratively.

Concurrently, in positioning itself as an opportunity for the disciplinary boundary transgression of the arts and social and medical sciences, and as inherently collaborative and participatory, the AOL defines the research project itself as a site of empirical exploration. Here, AOL also looks to investigate and negotiate epistemological, methodological, and practical questions relating to notions of equity, quality and (innovation in) knowledge production that arise in the overall pursuit of mobilizing transdisciplinarity in-between art and the specific healthcare domain of oncological patient care.

The arts – theatre, literature, poetry, (pop) music, dance, visual art, etc. – will serve as forms of research, rather than ‘merely’ as platforms for artistic expression or as science communication tools. They operate as ‘strange tools’1: tools that may exhibit our experiences – about ourselves, others, our environment, our illness – and also allow us to reflect on how and why we do things the way we do, including the way we ‘do’ illness in daily life as well as in the institutional setting of the hospital.

Want to get in touch? Please contact Niels van Poecke: n.vanpoecke@amsterdamumc.nl.

[1] Noë, A. (2015). Strange Tools. Art and Human Nature. New York: Hill and Wang.