The Necessity of Unsettling Encounters in Collaborative Research: Reflections of Two Researchers without Experiential Expertise

Sebastian von Peter, Gustaaf F. Bos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Maintaining collaborative research relations is challenging, as shown by a range of personal accounts of researchers with experiential expertise, emerging from reflected lived experiences within medical or social care institutions.
Objective: In contrast, there is a shortage of narratives of researchers without experiential expertise, rendering their specific perspectives largely unaccounted for – a gap that is addressed in this paper.
Methods: The interpretative method of “interactive interviewing” is used to systematically reflect on how two researchers without experiential expertise perceived personal and emotional unsettlement in collaborative projects in the fields of Mental Health (MH) and Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD).
Results: Four cases are presented to illustrate and advocate the value of unsettling encounters in collaborative research. Underlying is the ethical and methodological position that collaborative research is primarily characterized by its potential to unsettle the relations between the people and parties involved. This position derives from the critical autobiography of the disability studies scholar Kathryn Church, and contrasts to the widely held assumption that collaborative research is largely characterized by a set of distinct methods or techniques.
Discussion: Some of the epistemic and methodological gains and challenges of approaching collaborative research as a means to facilitate and reflect on unsettling encounters are presented and discussed in relation to overarching theoretical and normative-ethical arguments.
Community Contribution: This paper purposefully lacks any form of involvement, explicitly focussing on the perspectives and experiences of researchers without experiential expertise in the context of collaborative research relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • collaboration/collaborative research; emotional labour; unsettlement; encounter; knowledge production; personal experiences; reflexivity

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