My recent work has been on missing persons and I work in partnership with the Missing People charity and the UK Bureau of Missing Persons and the Scottish Government's Working Group for Missing Persons. I have been funded by the ESRC and have received the 2015 Outstanding Impact on Society Award.
Beyond missing people, my research has investigated the relationship between mental health and place by focusing on how ‘mentally ill identities’ are defined by reference to streets, institutions, cities, regions, virtualities, natures and mobilities (Parr, 2008).
I have been involved in examining the politics of psychiatric service users and city-wide activisms; spaces of ‘mad’ identity formation (Parr and Philo, 1995); the provision and politics of third sector services; delusional testimony; remote rural care provision; online community development and peer support (Parr, 2008); urban nature work (Parr, 2007), artistic citizenships (Parr, 2006) and mobility (Parr and Fyfe, 2013).
The person with mental health problems is transformed through this body of work from stigmatised outsider to nuanced and networked social citizen (Parr, 2008). The work centres a diverse collection of voices and experiences which are consistently neglected or marginalised.
Over my career I have been interested in developing sensitive methodologies for working with often vulnerable people. My ways of researching have constituted a sustained attempt to make research inclusive for people with mental health problems, whose lives may be very much outside of the usual remits/reach of academia. My research practices have pushed boundaries of methodological norms within the context of robust ethical argument. As a result I have interests and experience in overt and covert ethnographies on streets, shelters, in gardens and on-line. I have also engaged in collaborative film-making, focus groups, interviews-on-the-move, internet surveys and email-based research relationships, telephone interviewing and forms of co-writing.
My diverse ways of researching have been a sustained attempt to make research inclusive for people with mental health problems whose lives may be very much outside of the usual remits/reach of academia.
I'm interested in methodological practices and forms of writing that reach out to people who find standard ‘research talk’ very difficult. Walking, (co-)writing, digging, body-talk, film-making and story-telling have all comprised ways to engage and co-research the lives of often neglected others.