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Centre for Creative Ethnography

Kayla Rush

Kayla Rush

I am an anthropologist of art, music, and performance who teaches popular music and social theory at Dundalk Institute of Technology. I received my PhD in social anthropology from Queen’s University Belfast in 2018, and held a Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Individual Fellowship at Dublin City University from 2019 to 2022. My current research examines private, extracurricular, fees-based rock and popular music schools, and their relationships with identity, globalization, and capitalism.

My first book, The Cracked Art World: Conflict Austerity, and Community Arts in Northern Ireland, was published in Berghahn’s Material Mediations series in 2022. I also edited a major international special issue on creative ethnography for the Irish Journal of Anthropology in 2019, and my creative ethnographic work has also appeared in Etnofoor. I am a member of an international, multilingual feminist anthropology collective whose collaborative work explores creative and alternative modes of writing; this group’s work has appeared in Feminist Anthropology and Borderlands. In addition to creative writing, I am beginning to explore the ethnographic possibilities of creative and collaborative songwriting and recording practices.

I  began practicing and teaching creative ethnographic writing while still a PhD student at Queen’s, and am especially interested in the possibilities of science fiction and literary fiction for creative practice. I am regularly invited to give guest lectures on ethnographic writing and creative ethnography, throughout Ireland and beyond, an in 2022, taught an international online workshop series on ethnographic poetry for the World Anthropological Union. At the foundation of my teaching praxis is the belief that creative ethnography, when thoughtfully and intentionally engaged, is a radical feminist and decolonial practice.

  • Publications on creative practice

    The Cracked Art World: Conflict Austerity, and Community Arts in Northern Ireland (Berghahn, 2022): This monograph explored creative modes for telling ethnographic stores, including an extended opening written entirely in second person and a chapter section written in the form of a stage play. It worked to meet the job market expectations of a ‘first book’ while staying true to Kayla’s grounding in creative ethnographic writing practice.

    Special issue, Creative Ethnography: Epistemologies, Pedagogies, Possibilities (Irish Journal of Anthropology, 2019): This open-call special issue sought to share and celebrate creative ethnography in its many forms; contributions included poetry, prose, drama, film, photography, and reflections on creative teaching practices. At just under 350 pages, this was a major work featuring contributions from diverse scholars around the world. Kayla’s own prose piece, ‘Coconuts’, is included in the issue.

    ‘“The Last Funded Artist”: Imagining Futures through Ethnographic Science Fiction’ (Etnofoor, 2020): This article, comprised of a short story and a reflection, explored the possibilities of science fiction for communicating affective data, particularly around research participants’ fears and anxieties for the future.

  • Relevant Teaching Activities

    Lecturer in Architecture, Queen’s University Belfast (2018) – part of the teaching team for the MArch studio course ‘StreetSpace: A Visual Ethnography’ (I’m guessing Agustina is already affiliated to the CCE, in which case I’ll let her talk more about this)

    Workshop facilitator, World Anthropological Union – workshop series ‘Writing Ethnographic Poetry’ (2022) – I don’t have anything linkable/postable at the moment, but could certainly develop this for the CCE in the future (would love to teach the workshop again)

    Assistant Lecturer in Music, Dundalk Institute of Technology (2022-present) – teach a large number of modules, including some in creative practice (songwriting and popular music performance); also supervise undergraduate creative practice dissertations, especially in the BA (Hons) Drama and Performance

    Strategic Alignment of Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund award, 2023; project, ‘Academic Video Essays: Standards and Practices’ – project ongoing, outputs intended to be open-access; links to come

    Technological Higher Education Association NTUTORR Partners in Innovation and Change Fellowship Scheme award, 2023 (with Dr Daithí Kearney); project, ‘Hearing and Sounding a Diverse Campus’ – project ongoing, links and photos to come

  • Podcast on Creative Writing

    Podcast appearance, Coffee and Cocktails ‘Ethnography as Creative Writing’ -