Embodied knowledge: writing researchers' bodies into qualitative health research

Qual Health Res. 2006 Feb;16(2):298-310. doi: 10.1177/1049732305281944.


After more than a decade of postpositivist health care research and an increase in narrative writing practices, social scientific, qualitative health research remains largely disembodied. The erasure of researchers' bodies from conventional accounts of research obscures the complexities of knowledge production and yields deceptively tidy accounts of research. Qualitative health research could benefit significantly from embodied writing that explores the discursive relationship between the body and the self and the semantic challenges of writing the body by incorporating bodily details and experiences into research accounts. Researchers can represent their bodies by incorporating autoethnographic narratives, drawing on all of their senses, interrogating the connections between their bodily signifiers and research processes, and experimenting with the semantics of self and body. The author illustrates opportunities for embodiment with excerpts from an ethnography of a geriatric oncology team and explores implications of embodied writing for the practice of qualitative health research.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Knowledge*
  • Qualitative Research*
  • United States
  • Writing*