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On the Need for Methods Beyond Proceduralism: Speculative Middles, (In)Tensions, and Response-Ability in Research

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Abstract

This article responds to agitations occurring in qualitative research related to the incompatability between methodologies and methods, the preponderance of methodocentrism, the pre-supposition of methods, a reliance on data modeled on knowability and visibility, the ongoing emplacement of settler futurity, and the dilemma of representation. Enmeshments between ontological thought and qualitative research methodologies have rigorously interrogated the logic of anthropocentrism in conventional humanist research methods and have provoked some scholars to suggest that we can do away with method. Rather than a refusal of methods, we propose that particular (in)tensions need to be immanent to whatever method is used. If the intent of inquiry is to create a different world, to ask what kinds of futures are imaginable, then (in)tensions need attend to the immersion, friction, strain, and quivering unease of doing research differently.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800417704464
Qualitative Inquiry
2018, Vol. 24(3) 203 –214
© The Author(s) 2017
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DOI: 10.1177/1077800417704464
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Article
Walk as SLOWLY as you can.
FEEL the air against your SKIN as you
MOVE.
Move with an irregular rhythm.
~
Walk DIAGONALLY through the city.
Cross the road. Cross a threshold.
~
Keep your eyes CLOSED while walking.
Change the length of your STRIDE.
Remove your shoes. Trust the earth.
~
Follow lines, smells, the color red.
This article responds to agitations that are occurring in qual-
itative research, particularly issues related to the incompat-
ability between new empiricist methodologies and
phenomenological uses of methods (St. Pierre, 2016a;
Vagle & Hofsess, 2016), the preponderance of methodocen-
trism (Snaza & Weaver, 2015), the pre-supposition of meth-
ods (Manning, 2016), a reliance on data modeled on
knowability and visibility (Lather & St. Pierre, 2013;
MacLure, 2013), the ongoing emplacement of settler futu-
rity (Tuck & McKenzie, 2015), and the dilemma of repre-
sentation (Lorimer, 2005; Thrift, 2007; Vannini, 2015).
While enmeshments between ontological thought and qual-
itative research methodologies as shaped by affect theory
(Springgay, 2016; Springgay & Zaliwska, 2017), new mate-
rialism (Blaise, Hamm, & Iorio, 2017; de Freitas & Curinga,
2015; Mazzei, 2016; Snaza, Sonu, Truman, & Zaliwska,
2016), the new empiricism (St. Pierre, 2016b), and posthu-
manism (Snaza & Weaver, 2015) have rigorously interro-
gated the logic of anthropocentrism in conventional
humanist research methods, questions remain about con-
cepts such as research design, methods, procedure, data,
and analysis. We appear stuck, writes Elizabeth St. Pierre
(2016a), between new empiricist theories as methodologies
and traditional phenemenologically informed methods. And
while scholars are eager to suggest that we can do away
with method, this article will address some concerns we
have with this proposition.
First, there is an assumption that methods are particular
things, such as interviews, participant observation, or video
704464QIXXXX10.1177/1077800417704464Qualitative InquirySpringgay and Truman
research-article2017
1University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Corresponding Author:
Stephanie Springgay, Associate Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies
in Education, University of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street W, Toronto,
Ontario, Canada M5S 1V6.
Email: stephanie.springgay@utoronto.ca
On the Need for Methods Beyond
Proceduralism: Speculative Middles, (In)
Tensions, and Response-Ability in Research
Stephanie Springgay1 and Sarah E. Truman1
Abstract
This article responds to agitations occurring in qualitative research related to the incompatability between methodologies
and methods, the preponderance of methodocentrism, the pre-supposition of methods, a reliance on data modeled on
knowability and visibility, the ongoing emplacement of settler futurity, and the dilemma of representation. Enmeshments
between ontological thought and qualitative research methodologies have rigorously interrogated the logic of
anthropocentrism in conventional humanist research methods and have provoked some scholars to suggest that we can
do away with method. Rather than a refusal of methods, we propose that particular (in)tensions need to be immanent to
whatever method is used. If the intent of inquiry is to create a different world, to ask what kinds of futures are imaginable,
then (in)tensions need attend to the immersion, friction, strain, and quivering unease of doing research differently.
Keywords
qualitative research, methodologies, new materialisms, methods of inquiry, walking methods, ethics
204 Qualitative Inquiry 24(3)
ethnography. Yet, as we’ll elaborate, methods themselves
have been playfully interrogated and experimented with in
ways that already resist representation (Thrift, 2007;
Vannini, 2015). Second, although we agree with a radical
empiricist understanding that posits thought as a form of
inquiry, for us, as qualitative researchers who conduct large,
multisite, durational research projects with others, includ-
ing groups of students and teachers, artists and community
members, but also nonhuman entities like rocks and bark,
methods are significant and very much present in a research
event. Thus, rather than a refusal of methods, the remaining
sections of the article propose that particular (in)tensions
need to be immanent to whatever method is used. If the
intent of inquiry is to create a different world, to ask what
kinds of futures are imaginable, then (in)tensions attend to
the immersion, tension, friction, anxiety, strain, and quiver-
ing unease of doing research differently.
The article commences with a short review of arguments
emerging in qualitative research, particularly around the
viability of methods and data, within the turn to more onto-
logically nuanced research. The problem, we contend, isn’t
the types of methods researchers use, or that new methods
need to be invented. There is already an abundance of meth-
ods and experimental practices of doing research! We
approach methods propositionally, speculatively, and
experimentally and maintain that it is the logic of procedure
and extraction that needs undoing. Research methods can-
not be framed as a process of gathering data. Understood
relationally, methods become “a distributed, immanent field
of sensible processuality within which creative variations
give rise to modifications and movements of thinking”
(McCormack, 2013, p. 25). Research methods become a
practice of being inside a research event. We attend to the
how of research by thinking-with various walking projects
from WalkingLab (www.walkinglab.org) and beyond. We
use the idea of the walk score as a catalyst for movement.
Influenced by the tradition of Fluxus event scores,1 they
enact what Erin Manning and Brian Massumi (2014), fol-
lowing Alfred North Whitehead (1978), call propositions.
Propositions are different from research methods or a
research design in that they are speculative and event ori-
ented (Truman & Springgay, 2016). They are not intended
as a set of directions nor rules that contain and control
movement. Scores emphasize chance and improvisation.
Justy Phillips (2015) writes that “scoring is a technique of
eventing through lines of writing” (p. 133). Invoking a
number of artists and thinkers that engage with propositions
as scores, Phillips maintains that the score does not have set
order of activation. The score events the middle and “is the
mechanism which allows us all to become involved, to
make our presence felt. Scores are process-oriented, not
thing-oriented” (Halprin, cited in Phillips, 2015, p. 133).
The propositional form of the walk score invites us to
“begin” in a speculative middle, where rather than the
“making-reasonable of experience” (Manning, 2016, p. 31),
research “must be reinvented at every turn and thought must
always leap” (p. 45). We need to shift from thinking about
methods as processes of gathering data toward methods as a
becoming entangled in relations. This requires a commit-
ment to methods in which experience gives way to experi-
mentation, where it “becomes a field of variations in which
to experiment with the questions of how felt difference
might register in thinking” (McCormack, 2013, p. 11). The
question of movement is at the heart of this endeavor. Not a
movement from one point to another, but rather a thinking-
in-movement. Through examples from our many research
projects, we’ll discuss how research needs to be understood
as speculative eventing, and how within the speculative mid-
dle, methods need to be (in)tension so that methods become
attuned to ethicopolitical matters and concerns.
Walk a familiar path repetitively
Listen to what is no longer there
John Weaver and Nathan Snaza (2016) argue that traditional
qualitative approaches to research fetishize methods, and in
doing so maintain an understanding of methods as predeter-
mined entities that exist separate from the research event.
The givenness of method is exactly what Manning (2016)
confronts when she states that method “is a static organiza-
tion of preformed categories” (p. 31) an “apparatus of cap-
ture” (p. 32) which “stops potential on its way, cutting into
the process before it has had a chance to fully engage with
the complex relational fields that process itself calls forth”
(pp. 33-34). If method is pre-given and known in advance,
it also suggests that data, is an already pre-supposed entity
that is waiting to be captured, extracted, and mined. Method,
writes Maggie MacLure (2013) treats data as if it were an
“inert and indifferent mass waiting to be in/formed and cali-
brated by our analytic acumen or our coding systems” (p.
660). Weaver and Snaza (2016) similarly state that methods
that rely on processes of data gathering privilege sight and
its concomitant certainty, truth, stability, and representation.
As a move to unfurl methodocentrism and neo-positivism
in qualitative research, Patti Lather and Elizabeth St. Pierre
(2013) proposed a “post” conceptualization of research.
They contend that researchers’ prior training in qualitative
methods might in fact “normalize our thinking and doing,”
where a research design that follows conventional protocols
of questions, literature review, methods, data analysis, and
representation assumes that the “human is superior to and
separate from the material” (p. 630).
Writing about the politics of method, and in particular
the effects of interpretive analysis on Mãori-settler rela-
tions, Alison Jones and Kuni Jenkins (2008) insist on strate-
gically foregrounding material events over interpretation.
Using what they call a “materialization reading,” which
gives a speculative account informed by “Maori recognition
Springgay and Truman 205
. . . of the “shape” of the events” (p. 132), Jones and Jenkins
argue that methods need to attend to their material effects.
St. Pierre (2016a, 2016b) draws attention to the gap
between new empiricist methodologies and phenomenologi-
cal uses of methods. She argues that while theoretical orien-
tations, particularly those informed by Gilles Deleuze and
Felix Guattari, and what is often now referred to as new
materialisms, have greatly altered the landscape of qualita-
tive research, too often researchers still design, implement,
and gather data based on phenomenological understandings,
or conventional empirical methods, which are incommensu-
rable with immanent theories. In a “leap to application”
(p. 111), researchers utilize ontological theories to analyze
and code existing data collected using dominant phenome-
nological methods. St. Pierre (2016a) asserts that one can’t
deploy Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizome to interviews col-
lected through standard phenomenological methods, because
“they are thought in different ontological arrangements”
(p. 2). The resulting confusion is in part caused by the per-
petual theory/practice divide. Privileging practice, she states,
has resulted in normalizing methods and problematically
assumes that the “how” of research is separate from the the-
ory or thinking of research. We see evidence of this in the
overuse of diffractive analysis on decades old data, or arts-
based practices such as cutting, stitching, and collaging
together transcripts in an attempt to “perform data differ-
ently.” Neither diffraction nor collage are necessarily prob-
lematic, but iterated in these ways data remains as something
that can be “abstracted from experience into a system of
understanding that is decipherable precisely because its
operations are muted by their having been taken out of their
operational context” (Manning, 2016, p. 29). The idea that
data is a “thing” that sits in the world and can be isolated and
extricated by a method, but as separate from that method is
impossible if as Karen Barad (2007) states “relata do not
preceed relations” (p. 334).
The insular way in which data and methods are divorced
from one another is also common to how theory and meth-
ods are conceptualized as detached. Addressing the enmesh-
ment between theory and practice, St. Pierre (2016b)
encourages researchers to “read and read and read until its
concepts overtake us and help us lay out a plane that enables
lines of flight to what we have not yet been able to think and
live” (p. 122, emphasis added). Her encouragement to read
as a practice of pushing thought to its edge, to where thought
thinks thought, is necessary and productive. Radical empiri-
cism insists that thinking and experimenting are both mate-
rial gestures and consequently reading is an encounter that
brings “into being that which does not yet exist” (Deleuze,
1994, p. 139). According to Manning (2016) radical empiri-
cism begins in the middle of a mess of relations not yet orga-
nized in terms like subject/object. “Neither the knower or the
known can be situated in advance of the occasion’s coming
to be - both are immanent to the field’s composition” (p. 30).
In the same way that methods cannot be known in advance
and used as preestablished procedures, thought must also
arrive in the middle and be immanent to the event itself. In
the example of collage, collage then would not happen after
the event of research as a way to creatively entangle data, but
rather collage must become a thinking-making-doing, where
collaging and thought exist simultaneously. This means that
a researcher can’t extract data from a research site using phe-
nomenological methods and then make a collage out of that
data. Such a model is based on a process of extraction. The
collage isn’t the issue, it’s the idea that there is inert data that
can be mined.
Counter to St. Pierre’s (2016a, 2016b) arguments, Mark
Vagle and Brooke Hofsess (2016) ask questions about the
productivity of bridging phenomenology with post qualita-
tive methodologies, insisting that a playful “putting
together” of phenomenology and Deleuze and Guattarian
concepts provoke a postreflectivity. However, our own new
materialist and speculative conjectures about methodolo-
gies and methods are more in line with St. Pierre’s convic-
tions that reflexivity (humanist) and radical empiricism
(more-than-human) are incommensurate. Reflexivity, even
as an entangled practice, presupposes a subject and is
founded on interpretive practices. For example, Margaret
Somerville (2016) notes that while the crisis of language
and representation has troubled qualitative researchers for
decades, the focus on the materiality of language, that new
materialism offers attends to data “that defies representa-
tion, data that commands attention precisely because it can-
not be explained” (p. 1163). This is what MacLure (2013)
calls data that “glows,” where glowing speaks to the inten-
sities and forces that cannot be interpreted or understood
through conventional meaning making practices.
Standard approaches to qualitative research conceive of
methodologies as the theoretical orientation of research,
and methods are the procedures by which empirical materi-
als are collected and interpreted. Although conventional
qualitative methods, such as interviews, can be used on
their own, more often researchers combine a number of
approaches, including idiosyncratic experimental practices
to generate both observed and ephemeral “data.” For
example, walking on its own can be a method of doing
research such as long walks, dérive, and psychogeography.
Or it can be merged with various other methods like pho-
tography and video, drawing, sensory methods, different
mapping techniques, including GPS (Global Positioning
System), and performance. Walking is distinguished as
either an ordinary method, or an innovative strategy that
utilizes new technologies.
But even amid innovation and experimentation there is a
risk that methods are determined in advance of research and
that they are intended to aid a researcher and/or participant
in gathering some kind of evidence. Innovative or arts-
based methods can also fall into a logic of proceduralism
206 Qualitative Inquiry 24(3)
that can be validated, codified, and represented. Walking is
sometimes figured as one of these counter methods, but as
Manning (2016) argues,
Any ordering agenda that organizes from without is still active
in the exclusion of processes too unintelligible within current
understandings of knowledge to be recognized, let alone
studied or valued. Despite its best intentions, method works as
the safeguard against the ineffable. (p. 32)
In instrumentalizing walking as a method, there is the pre-
sumption that walking is going to do something specific
before the event occurs, and that walking is uniquely situ-
ated to discover and gather data. The problem, we maintain,
is that instead of attending to the ecologies of research, or
what we prefer to call the thinking-making-doing of
research, researchers fall into the trap of believing that cre-
ating new methods will offer different solutions. This, as
Manning (2016) contends, cuts “into the process before it
has had a chance to fully engage with the complex rela-
tional fields the process itself calls forth” (pp. 33-34). In
taking up the question of how to do immanent research, it is
no longer sufficient to engage with representation and inter-
pretation (reflexivity). Rather, we must consider specula-
tive eventing as a research practice that provokes an ethics
that is accountable to a material world. We posit that meth-
ods are not the issue. Methods must be engaged with in the
speculative middle and (in)tensions must be brought to bear
on them. In what follows, we discuss these agitations.
Follow a thought in the direction of the
wind
CROSS (m)any lines
Research begins in the middle. For Deleuze and Guattari
(1987), the middle is where things grow, expand, and pick
up speed. The middle is not an average nor a zone between
the beginning and the end. The middle passes between
things as a “transversal movement” (p. 25). In the middle,
immanent modes of thinking-making-doing come from
within the processes themselves, not from outside them. In
the middle the speculative “what if” emerges as a catalyst
for the event. The middle is a difficult place to be. Deleuze
and Guattari (1987) write that it’s hard to see things clearly
in the middle. That is the point. The middle can’t be known
in advance of research. You have to be “in it,” situated and
responsive. You are not there to report on what you find or
what you seek, but to activate thought. To agitate it. The
speculative middle “seeks to energize new modes of activ-
ity already in germ” (Manning & Massumi, 2014, p. 87). In
the speculative middle, “experience is not an object out
there to be acted upon. Rather, it is a field of variation in
which thinking is another variation” (McCormack, 2013,
p. 9). The speculative middle shifts methods from a reporting
on the world to a way of being in the world that is open to
experimentation and is (in)tension. Celia Lury (2012)
names this approach “live methods” which she contends
must be satisfied with an engagement with relations and with
parts, with differentiation and be involved in making middles,
in dividing without end(s), in mingling, bundling, and coming
together. The objects of such methods—being live—are
without unity, un-whole-some; put another way, they are partial
and undivisible, distributed, and distributing. (p. 191)
Situated and partial knowledge of course has its antecedents
in a long and pressing history of feminist research.
Moreover, the affective, expressive, intra-active, and pre-
cognitive underpinnings of what Lury calls “live methods”
intersect with “new materialist” methodologies that insist
on the way agency flows through relational networks and is
mobilized through human and nonhuman intra-actions.
This liveness is quite different from phenomenological
understandings of “lived experience” that enfolds human
subjectivity into the event. Rather, this liveness or incipient
subjectivity of a sense-event remains open, incorporeal, and
virtual, and exists in a time that is always past and always
about to come, but never happening (Deleuze & Guattari,
1987). Research thought in this way, as an event of becom-
ing, emphasizes doing rather than meaning making. The
becoming incipient event of research, a becoming-intense,
engenders a politics of imperceptibility and offers the
potential for unraveling anthropocentric models of research.
What has become increasingly clear is that rather than try-
ing to collect data or represent an objective reality (methods
that privilege the human and treat data as existing phenomena),
we need to think about inventive practices that “intervene, dis-
turb, intensify or provoke a heightened sense of the potentiality
of the present” (Sheller, 2014, p. 134). This requires a different
orientation to methods.
WALK backwards without looking over your
SHOULDER.
Perform a sun DIAL.
The Walking Neighbourhood directed by artist Lenine
Bourke, and a featured WalkingLab project, is an interactive
walking tour lead by children and/or youth that explores
local communities on foot. The project has been enacted in
more than eight different cities in Australia, Europe, and
Asia. Each iteration begins with a series of propositions and
problems that are then further attended to in workshops
between the artists facilitating the project and the young
people involved. Different methods are brought to bear on
the workshops which activate the various ideas that surface.
For example, propositions and problems in the project in
Chiang Mai, Thailand, focused on the immediate neighbor-
hood block that the young people lived within, the different
Springgay and Truman 207
kinds of relations and encounters that were (im)possible,
and how different ways of walking and moving in their
neighborhood could enact different forms of responsibility.
Methods included storytelling, walking, sound recordings,
drawing, photography, and games. Although each of these
examples is known, in the sense that we know what a pho-
tograph is, the methods themselves were not planned in
advance of the research event. Lenine did not know before
she and the other artists started working with the young
people, what methods would be generative to the practice of
working together. The methods emerged out of the collabo-
ration between the artists and the young people and
responded to the immanence of the event itself. Furthermore,
the methods were not a means by which the young people
collected data from their neighborhood. The methods were
not used to extract a sense of what already existed in the
neighborhood or the young people’s personal experience of
place. Instead the young people and the artists created minor
public walking interventions that were not about recording
or capturing their environment, but about activating prob-
lems and concepts in the midst of the event. Research meth-
ods create new concepts, new knowledges, and new
practices of relating. This inventive and experimental pro-
cess becomes a process of exhausting terminology and what
is already known. The speculative middle and the problem-
atizing altered the method of the walking tour. Typically
walking tours impart information about a particular place.
On a tour, you learn about the topology of a place, the his-
tory, or significant landmarks. Walking tours are both
planned—as in the leader has information they wish to
instruct participants about—or explorative—as in partici-
pants discover something new. Examples include the inter-
national movement called Jane’s Walk, and food tours
(Swan & Flowers, 2016), where walking tours become par-
ticular kinds of pedagogical practices.
Over weeks of eventing, The Walking Neighbourhood
artists and the young people use various methods to prob-
lematize further problems and to creatively produce a
response. The response is a series of youth lead walking
tours. These performances are themselves speculative mid-
dles, contingent on entanglements between tour leaders and
participant-audiences. The audience does not simply watch
the tour. Rather, participant-audiences are invited to become
attentive to, and to meaningfully respond within the event.
Artist-researchers recognize there is a politics and ethics to
how we come to know others. As performative experiments,
the methods of the walking tours “probe speculative dimen-
sions” (Van dooren, Kirksey, & Munster, 2016, p. 9). Artist-
researchers don’t describe research events but engage with
the event as a speculative practice. This is similarly
addressed in the project Nightwalks With Teens, a perfor-
mance-based project where teens lead groups of strangers
on a series of walks, in the dark (Springgay, 2013). In con-
trast with Jane’s Walks, which impart information, or guided
hikes where participants are encouraged to become attuned
to “nature,” Nightwalks, whether performed in urban cities
or rural areas of Canada, disrupts any pregiven assumption
about how the walks can be consumed or experienced.
Other examples of speculative middles include
Stephanie’s multiyear project The Pedagogical Impulse
(see www.thepedagogical.com) where artists worked on a
diverse range of projects with students in K-12 schools and
community centers (see Rotas & Springgay, 2014; Truman
& Springgay, 2015; Zaliwska & Springgay, 2015). Although
the focus of the projects was not specific to walking
research, in many instances, walking methods were used as
speculative practices.
In speculative middles, a practice is engendered “that
puts relations at risk with other relations” or “in the pres-
ence of those who will bear their consequences” (p. 12). In
a speculative middle, a
charge passes through the body and lingers for a little while as
an irritation, confusion, judgement, thrill, or musing. However
it strikes us, its significance jumps. Its visceral force keys a
search to make sense of it, to incorporate it into an order of
meaning. But it lives first as an actual charge immanent to acts
and scene—a relay. (Stewart, 2007, p. 39)
A speculative middle does not stop a researcher. It’s a thrust,
a future provocation for thinking-making-doing. As
Manning (2016) writes, “in the midst, in the event, we know
the object not in its fullness, in its ultimate form, but as an
edging into experience” (p. 48). Speculative middles,
through processes such as walking, reading, and writing,
emerge as agitations and as affective force. Donna Haraway
(2016) writes that “it matters what matters we use to think
other matters with” (p. 12). In the speculative middle, which
is not a place, but an event, (in)tensions, concerns, and
gnawings continually emerge. As the agitations take shape,
it is the (in)tensions that incite further action, which elicits
additional propositions, and new speculative middles to
emerge.
Notice
the turn of the feet,
the lock of knee,
the shift of the hip
(In)tensions arise in the speculative middle and alter the
how of methods and the research event.
The prefix “in” can signify the negative of a concept, for
instance, inattention and inexpensive. But “in” can also be
used to express a toward or a within, in such words as insu-
lar, intake, inside, and intimacy. Jeffrey Cohen (2015) sig-
nals both abjection and inclusion, and is therefore “full of
affect” (p. i). If conceived of as the opposite of the human,
the prefix becomes enmeshed with nature, signifying the
208 Qualitative Inquiry 24(3)
nature-culture divide. But in, Cohen poses, is far more com-
plex, and is also a “designation for excesses of scale (too
vast or miniscule for familiarity); a separation within incor-
poration; negation belied by production; an antonym that
fails” (p. i). (In)tensions are attuned to ethico-political con-
cerns that emerge in each speculative middle. If methods
are not predetermined in advance, and arise in a speculative
middle, then they become ways of thinking about problems.
Todd May (2005) writes that “solutions present themselves
as stable identities whereas problems (at least the worth-
while ones) present themselves as ‘open fields’ or ‘gaps’ or
‘ontological folds.’ Problems are inexhaustible, while solu-
tions are a particular form of exhaustion” (p. 85). To begin
in the speculative middle means to let go of agendas and
embrace “conditions to come” (Uncertain Commons, 2013,
n.p.). In that regard, problems are always virtual while solu-
tions are actual in the Deleuzian sense. To think in terms of
problems—to problematize—rather than find solutions
keeps a method (in)tension.
Deleuze’s (1994) ontology is not concerned with what is
(with discrete forms of identity as being) but as an approach
to experimentation—a way of probing what might be.
Deleuze’s might be exists virtually in all instances but as a
virtuality cannot be known until after it emerges. For
Deleuze, whatever emerges as an event in turn has the abil-
ity to modify virtual potentials: a process which he calls
differentiation. For Deleuze, the virtual “possesses a full
reality by itself” it is “real without being actual, differenti-
ated without being differenciated, and complete without
being entire” (pp. 211, 214, emphasis in original). Although
Deleuze was not a quantum theorist, and Barad (2015) does
not seem to cite Deleuze, her recent journal article exempli-
fies the dynamism between the virtual actual when she
states, “Virtuality is the materiality wandering/wonderings
of nothingness; virtuality is the ongoing thought experiment
that the world preforms with itself . . .” (p. 396). Or as
Manning (2016) states, “[t]he virtual is never opposite to
the actual—it is how the actual resonates beyond the limits
of its actualization” (p. 29). For Manning, this operates as a
“relational field of emergent experience” where there is no
preestablished hierarchy and no preconstituted subject-
positions, there are only “emergent relations” (p. 29). All
relations, as and the events they constitute have virtual
potential—what emerges in actuality stirs the virtual, and
vice versa.
Deleuze’s thought compels researchers to experiment
with problems rather than seek solutions. Similarly, rather
than political activism rectifying problems of the past,
Elizabeth Grosz (2004) argues that it should be “augmented
with those dreams of the future that make its projects end-
less, unattainable, ongoing experiments rather than solu-
tions” (p. 14). As such, methods become an experimental
site for posing new questions as speculative middles (in)
tensions. Methods push us to ask questions differently, to
problematize problems, rather than collect data or seek
solutions. In the speculative middle, problematizing is a
mode of defamiliarization that ruptures taken-for-granted
habits, tropes, and common assumptions about how meth-
ods perform (Truman & Springgay, 2016).
A few summers ago, Sarah set up a dark room in her
basement. It was a time when many of our colleagues were
experimenting with GoPro cameras and other wearable
technologies as a way to record movement, and we wanted
to reconsider more analogue approaches. We built several
pinhole cameras out of coffee tins, shoe boxes, and a
Chinese tea chest. Pinhole photography is a lensless pro-
cess. In the case of a coffee tin, a small hole, or aperture, is
punctured in the wall of the tin, allowing light to pass
through onto photographic paper that is sealed inside. Once
the paper is exposed to light, it needs to be processed in the
dark room. Because they typically require long exposure
times, pinhole cameras are usually mounted in one place for
the duration of the shot. Moving the camera during the
exposure time can produce ghostly gestures; a palpable
affect of rhythm and light. We took our shoe box and coffee
tin cameras on walks and their long exposure time forced us
to pause, to attend to our thinking-in-movement. But the
dark room chemicals are toxic so we have traded the ana-
logue process for a pinhole mount on a DSLR camera.
These digital pinhole pictures don’t require long exposures,
and as no photo paper is needed, we can record a series of
images in a short amount of time. Wearing or holding the
camera as we walk, the walking pinhole images become
indistinct shadows of light and movement. They disorient
perception of space and time. They evoke, what Kathleen
Stewart (2007) calls ordinary affects through their quiver-
ing surfaces. Ordinary affects, she states, “provoke atten-
tion to the forces that come into view as habit or shock,
resonance or impact. Something thrown itself together in a
moment as an event and a sensation; a something both ani-
mated and inhabitable” (p. 1). The images, which undulate
and animate assemblages of human and nonhuman encoun-
ters do not represent the walks but incite new modes of
thought and different practices of relating. As a method, the
pinholes set the event of thinking-making-doing in motion.
They are a thinking-with practice.
If the idea is that methods are a way to pose problems
differently, the pinholes became, for us, a way to think about
how to wrestle with methods as affective ecologies. How do
you work a method that is infused with movement and
affect? How to think movement moving? Anthropologist
Natasha Myers (2016) has similarly experimented with
walking and photography to think-with plant sentience in an
Oak Savannah in Toronto’s High Park. Methods, she con-
tends, are practices for cultivating “modes of attention that
might help tune in to the deep time of these lands and the
naturalcultural happenings shaping its present” (p. 2,
emphasis in original). Modes of attention ask questions
Springgay and Truman 209
about what matters to the land. To tune into is not the same
as to capture, or to document. It is a bending and folding, or
what Carla Hustak and Natasha Myers (2012) call “involu-
tionary momentum.” Involution, as opposed to evolution,
is a relational movement, a coupling, or comingling.
Involutionary readings, they write, “give way to livelier
ontologies and intra-active worldings” (p. 105). (In)tensions
tune into and attend to not knowing, asking “what modes of
embodiment, attention, and imagination would we need to
know this place well?” (Myers, 2016, p. 3). Thus, the issue
isn’t what methods are used such as walking or pinhole pho-
tography but the kinds of problematizing, or tuning into, that
matter.
Our pinhole walks habitually take place on the Bruce
Trail behind Sarah’s house in Hamilton, Ontario. The Bruce
Trail opened in 1967 and stretches from Niagara Falls to
Tobermory. At almost 900 kilometers it is the oldest and
longest marked hiking trail in Canada. It was created to
draw attention to the geologic formation called the Niagara
Escarpment, and stretches through Haudenosaunee terri-
tory. The escarpment is a horseshoe-shaped ridge of rock
from Rochester, New York, through Lake Ontario to
Hamilton, north to Tobermory, beneath Lake Huron, surfac-
ing again on Manitoulin Island, where it then moves across
Northern Michigan. It was shaped over 400 million years
ago and is composed of sedimentary rock, which is under
continual erosion as soft rocks underneath the limestone
caprock are worn and weathered by streams. The gradual
removal of soft rocks leaves a cliff or escarpment. It is this
escarpment over which the infamous Niagara River plunges
at Niagara Falls.
The Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) is committed to
improvement, maintenance, and/or protection of the trail.
Based on humanist notions of stewardship and land care,
the BTC is not only involved in the preservation of the bio-
sphere but continues to purchase land to expand the “parks”
rights and access to the trail. However, as Myers (2016)
writes, conservationist practices “participate in an ongoing
colonial project that has enforced the dispossession of
Indigenous peoples from their lands” (p. 3). Walking-with
pinhole photography as a method, entangled with an (in)
tension of problematizing what matters, demands we rei-
magine “land care.” Conventional conservation practices
see the need to preserve nature in a “natural” state. But as
Leanne Simpson (2014) argues, learning comes through
land. Rather than approaching care as a settler colonial act
of maintenance and capitalism, imposed on from the out-
side, care becomes intimate and relational between all enti-
ties. Learning-with the land is important here. The ghostly
images of trees, rocks, and human bodies in our pinhole
photos reminds us of our continual entanglements and the
conflicting understandings of the Bruce Trail. Our methods
of walking-with insist that the land, the sediments of the
escarpment that consist of rocks and Indigenous peoples,
stays with us in unrestrained fullness. Research methods
that pre-determine what can exist, and as such what can be
extracted, reproduce particular ontological certainties.
Methods (in)tensions with themselves, as relational, unset-
tle givens, and attend to being otherwise.
Walk with a friend who lives in another
city
Walk on the same street, at the same
time, but in your respective cities
Walk in companion
Speculative middles escape order. They are in excess.
Stewart (2007) writes that in the middle, it’s the “fragments
of experience left hanging” (p. 44) that are of most interest.
As agitations proliferate, questions need to be asked to “cul-
tivate the capacity of response-ability” (Haraway, 2016, p.
35). These questions don’t require idealized or utopic solu-
tions, rather they force us to engage with the world and to
create conditions for ongoing provocations.
As part of WalkingLab, and one of the many projects
executed for her doctoral dissertation, Sarah developed an
in-school project in a secondary school in Cardiff, United
Kingdom. The focus of the project was the relationship
between walking or a thinking-in-movement, writing, and
youth cultural production as emergent “literacy” practices.
These are documented at www.sarahetruman.com. In much
the same way that The Walking Neighbourhood emerged
out of speculative middles, continuously problematizing
problems, the in-school methods Sarah used materialized as
a series of minor events. Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s
minor literature, Manning (2016) explores what she calls a
minor gesture, a speculative middle infused with ecologies
of practice. The minor, she writes “is a continual variation
on experience” (p. 1) which “invents new forms of exis-
tence” (p. 2). Although the “major” tends to organize itself
according to predetermined understandings of “value,” the
minor is a “force that courses through it, unmooring its
structural integrity, problematizing its normative standards”
(p. 1). The minor seen in this way is varied, open to flux,
and indeterminate. Minor gestures are everywhere and hap-
pen all the time. It is through ongoing minor punctuations of
events that new things occur and are inherently political.
And because the minor occurs in the indeterminate phase of
an event, the minor functions speculatively, and can reorient
the direction of experience.
For example, many artists, writers, and qualitative
researchers draw on the idea of a dérive to set thought in
motion. A dérive is a walking strategy that originated with
the Situationists International in the 1960s, in Paris.
Although the dérive is often conceptualized as a playful
experimental practice, the intent of the dérive was to move
about the city, without a focused trajectory, but with an
intensive consciousness of the environment. By not
210 Qualitative Inquiry 24(3)
walking as a means to get from one place to another, but by
utilizing a form of drifting, walkers defamiliarized the hab-
its associated with walking, movement, and embodied map-
ping. The idea was to drop usual “relations” and set out to
explore “appealing” and “repelling” places as well as
“switching stations” where there is an urge to change direc-
tion. Current approaches to the dérive take on many differ-
ent forms, but are typically marked by an active awareness
of place (Edensore, 2000; Richardson, 2015). The dérive is
a method of psychogeography, which could be described as
the study of the emotional and psychological responses to a
particular environment.
Feminists have critiqued the dérive’s tactics for produc-
ing a tourist gaze that perpetuates a separation between
observer and observed (Massey, 2005; Richardson, 2015).
This, we argue, further exploits the nature-culture divide
and marks some bodies as inhuman or “out of place.”
Oriented as a heteropatriarchal practice, “an uncomfortable
undercurrent of misogyny and neocolonialism lurks within
much psychogeography and has since its inception” (Rose,
2015, p. 150). Some contemporary forms of the dérive play
with its form as a means to counter this heteronormative
logic. For example, artist Diane Borsto’s Chinatown Foray
leads groups of amateur mychologists on urban forays
through a city’s “Chinatown,” identifying Asian mush-
rooms using a variety of guidebooks, many of which are
North American. Identification practices include visual and
other sensory modalities, and as such, the forays, while
intended to be creative and experimental practices, result in
further abjectification of particular bodies and spaces
(Springgay, 2011). In this instance, walking and paying
attention to things out of synch with habituated practices
might actually reinforce power relations and reterritorialize
bodies. What is at stake then, with the dérive as a method, is
not a matter of form (e.g., a mushroom foray), but a matter
of (in)tension.
The dérive was a propositional catalyst for some of the
in-school walks, in Sarah’s study, where students were
encouraged to use defamiliarization to attend to what was
present and absent. Students were encouraged to tune
toward what matters, and what is excluded from mattering
(Barad, 2007). In the speculative middle, different minor
techniques problematized the dérive including mapping
using literary devices, writing poems that examined the
spatial politics of their walks to and from school, and writ-
ing exercises that activated rhythm in conjunction with
movement. What these minor gestures opened up for the
dérive was a place for different (in)tensions to matter. But
a dérive inflected with minor gestures is infused with inti-
macy where knowledge of place is not something grasped
from a distance but emerges through proximity; where
proximity is not a voyage of discovery, but where one bears
the consequences for the things that are not even known yet
(Springgay, 2008).
Too often, researchers get fixated on experimental meth-
ods such as a dérive. However, when these creative prac-
tices are used to generate data that appear nonconventional,
there is a tendency to see the creative method as a practice
of deterritorialization. But being experimental in itself is
not enough. On a dérive, for example, we need to ask the
question, “what is being worked here?” Meaning, not just
what are we paying attention to that we might not typically
experience, but what response-abilities arise from such
tending toward. Haraway (2016) urges researchers to act
inside ongoing trouble and as such methods must exist in
conflict frictionally (Springgay & Truman, 2016). Moreover,
methods cannot assume to be “one size fits all.” For
instance, not all bodies move in a city in a similar way.
Some bodies are already marked by particular inheritances.
Sara Ahmed (2006) demonstrates how some spaces or
places, such as the city street are barred from the experience
of certain bodies, even as those spaces coproduce such bod-
ies, particularly racialized bodies. She states,
[t]he “matter” of race is very much about embodied reality;
seeing oneself or being seen as white [or brown] or black or
mixed does affect what one “can do,” or even where one can
go, which can be re-described in terms of what is and is not
within reach. (p. 112)
Garnette Cadogan (2016) similarly writes, “Walking while
black restricts the experience of walking, [and] renders inac-
cessible the classic Romantic experience of walking alone.”
In Sarah’s in-school study, one student wrote a poem about the
politics of surveillance she encounters on a daily basis,
because she wears hijab. Her poem, which deploys the clichéd
refrain of “walking on eggshells,” is in effect an argument that
psychogeography and the dérive are privileged practices.
Liberal humanism presumes that psychogeography is an
activity of paying attention to the corporeality of walking in
space, casting off usual relations, to become more “enlivened”
by walking and place. But race, gender, sexuality, and ability
are not corporeal skins that are attuned into only at particular
moments, such as on a dérive, nor can they be flung aside
innocently. Writing about exceptionalism, in relation to queer-
ness, Jasbir Puar (2007) states that transgression “relies on a
normative notion of deviance, always defined in relation to
normativity, often universalizing” (p. 23). The dérive, as an
act of transgression, coheres and regulates bodies.
Methods are “non-innocent knottings” (Haraway, 2016,
p. 29), and mobilize what Stacy Alaimo (2016) calls an ethics
of inhabitation, which entangles the situatedness of corporeal
knowledge, the movement of walking, and the larger geo-
political realm of White supremacy and nationalism.
Methods, like the dérive, used blindly and without (in)ten-
sions stifle “the very opening through which fragile new modes
of existence can come to expression” (Manning, 2016, p. 9).
The issue, as such, is not that we abandon methods, such as the
Springgay and Truman 211
dérive, nor methods altogether, but that (in)tensions remain
immanent to the speculative middle, which consequently alter
the response-ability we have for the methods we use.
Another example of an (in)tension coupled with walking
methods is addressed in a forthcoming project The New
Field. This project uses the method of the long walk to walk
the 900 kilometers of the Bruce Trail with various commu-
nity groups and individuals, as a statement and protest, and
will result in demanding that the Ontario and Federal
Government put into legislature the “rights of nature.” The
(in)tensions inhered in this long walk project include ques-
tions about how landscapes, such as Provincial trails are
mapped and produced, advocacy for Land and Indigenous
sovereignty, and ethical political concerns for more-than-
human ecologies that are not based on human-centric con-
servation practices of care.
Walk (in)tension
Practice an ethics of inhabitation
Despite the ubiquitous concerns in qualitative research
about the role and place of methods, we are convinced that
methods themselves are not the issue. Whether you practice
more conventional methods such as interviews or experiment
with mobile technologies is beside the point. Call them meth-
ods, or techniques (Manning & Massumi, 2014; Phillips,
2015), or whatever you want. Invent, experiment, queer
them. Methods are necessary for thinking-making-doing.
This of course requires the idea of a method becoming an
ecology of practices that are generated in a research event.
Regardless of what methods are incorporated, they (a) can-
not be predetermined and known in advance of the event of
research; (b) should not be procedural, but rather emerge and
proliferate from within the speculative middle, as proposi-
tions, minor gestures, and in movement; (c) should not be
activities used for gathering or collecting data. Instead meth-
ods must agitate, problematize, and generate new modes of
thinking-making-doing; and (d) methods require (in)tensions,
which trouble and rouse ethical and political matterings.
Initiating a research event in the speculative middle and
with (in)tensions might seem like a daunting proposition to
graduate students and experienced researchers trained in
conventional qualitative research. Yet, the kinds of post-
methodologies that Lather and St. Pierre (2013) demand
already proliferate in many different fields including educa-
tion, human geography, visual arts and performance studies,
and anthropology. Stephanie’s work inside and outside of
schools, with large groups of participants, or in small artist
community settings, provides one such example. Sarah’s
master’s thesis incorporating creative nonfiction as the
research practice (Truman, 2013), and her PhD projects
such as Intra-Textual Entanglements (www.sarahetruman.
com; Truman, 2016), which invited participants to create
and intervene with a Nietzsche text, are other examples of
speculative middles. These examples are funded by research
grants and have gone through research ethics board
approval. Rather than training students in conventional
methods, through coursework, and then expecting or rather
hoping that they find ways to speculatively invent, we need
to develop alongside our students’ experimental practices.
This of course requires, as St. Pierre (2016b) suggests, read-
ing and reading and reading to push thought to its edge, but
this reading, we contend, must also be accompanied simul-
taneously with a thinking-making-doing.
In addition, we have begun to imagine methods moving
frictionally across all aspects of a research event, from its
inception, its execution, and its dissemination. In the final
section of this article, we discuss the entanglement of meth-
ods with practices of documenting and mobilizing knowl-
edge. Rather than conceive of methods entering into a
research project only at the stage when a qualitative
researcher is “in the field,” methods permeate research in its
entirety. They are “extensive and permanently unfinished,”
writes Haraway (2016), and require “the cultivation of viral
response-abilities, carrying meanings and materials across
kinds in order to infect processes and practices” (p. 114).
Methods are contagious, they mutate, and infect each other,
which as Haraway (2016) contends is a feminist practice of
care. This care, we understand from her writing, is not a
moralizing gesture, but one that puts bodily ethical and
political obligations (in)tensions where they become
accountable “to the specific materializations of which we
are a part” (Barad, 2007, p. 91). This, Barad argues, requires
research practices that are “attentive to, and responsive/
responsible to, the specificity of material entanglements in
their agential becoming” (p. 91).
Methods can be practices of generating research and
methods for dispersing the research with different publics
simultaneously. In what follows, we consider three aberrant
examples. Aberrant means atypical, irregular, anomalous,
and deviant and underscores the idea of ecologies of practice
rather than models that can be replicated. The three aberrant
examples we use to conclude this article stray and wander,
unfolding frictional tensions that are capricious, indetermi-
nate, and in constant variation. Characteristic, however,
within these anomalous examples is the insistence that meth-
ods are generated both as a means to produce, create, and
materialize knowledge and practices of dispersal, collective
sharing, and activation of knowledge at the same time.
There are a number of ways we consider methods inter-
woven with research dissemination. One example is that
walks themselves are methodologies. They are also meth-
ods of thinking-making-doing research, and they become
events where knowledge is shared. Stone Walks on the
Bruce Trail: Queering the Trail is a WalkingLab event that
convened on the Chedoke to Iroquoia Heights loop trail, a
9-km section of the Radial Trail and Bruce Trails. The event
brought together more than 70 walkers to think-with the
212 Qualitative Inquiry 24(3)
geologic force of this place. The 4-hour walk was punctured
by ‘pop up’ lectures by geologists, activists, and indigenous
scholars and activated by a local arts collective TH&B, who
critically intervened with typical ways that walkers use
these trails. Rather than approach research as an event of
data gathering followed by analysis and dissemination, the
walk becomes an event of research where the generation of
research and its knowledge dissemination cannot be sepa-
rated out.
Another iteration might be the creation of discursive
events that are both sites to problematize research and a
means to work with different publics around the knowledge
flowing through the research event. For example, WalkingLab
curated an event in collaboration with the University of
New South Wales Art Gallery called Live Art, Social and
Community Engagement: Interrogating Methodologies of
Practice. This event was not intended to be a space for artist-
researchers to report on, or describe previous research.
Instead, panelists were provided a series of provocative ques-
tions, as methods, that shaped the conversations. While the
panel discussions were happening, and during the afternoon
breakout sessions, “Live Writers” used various methods or
“writing machines” to further enter into the event. Their “live
writing” was not intended to capture the speakers’ words but
to respond, engage, antagonize, and problematize the ideas,
theories, concepts, and provocations put forth by the panel-
ists and the small group discussions. Some writers used lap-
tops and data projectors, another created a series of haikus,
another wrote on the floor of the gallery space, which had
been covered in cellophane paper, and yet another created a
counter archive as an appendix of concepts, words, and agita-
tions from the day. The Live Art event was open to the public
and more than 80 people from the arts including practicing
artists, curators, and scholars participated. The production of
knowledge and the communication or sharing of said knowl-
edge occurred in situ. Phillip Vannini (2015), writing about
similar concerns emerging in more-than-representational
methodologies, states that research needs to “enliven rather
than report, to render rather than represent, to resonate rather
than validate, to rupture and reimagine rather than faithfully
describe, to generate possibilities of encounter rather than
construct representative ideal types” (p. 15).
A third example, is the WalkingLab website. The website
works in multiple ways including the aim to share research
through open access models of “publication.” From the out-
set, the research has sought ways to mobilize knowledge to
vastly different audiences. So, while in some cases, for
instance, the projects page, the website functions as a repos-
itory or an online archive, other methods built into the web-
site are simultaneously research and dissemination oriented.
Here, we point readers to the residency portion of the web-
site. While each resident is “in” residence virtually with the
WalkingLab, they simultaneously enact minor gestures to
problematize different (in)tensions about walking research,
and by blogging about their methods and practices they
share their thinking-making-doings with audiences.
In closing, we think-with Manning and Massumi’s
(2014) words of caution, that even inventive practices have
the potential to become institutionalized “in accordance
with established criteria, [which] would boil down to little
more than grouping traditional disciplinary research meth-
odologies under the same roof” (p. 88). Methods are multi-
farious and contagious, and exist throughout the duration of
a research event propelling thinking-making-doing forward
into the next speculative middle.
Bring nothing but words
Walk from one BODY of water to another
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect
to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Funding
for this research is from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council, Canada (ID: 10.13039/501100000155).
Note
1. The international artist group called Fluxus created “scores”
for live performances where the process of creating was priv-
ileged over completed works.
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Author Biographies
Stephanie Springgay is an associate professor in the Department
of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at the Ontario Institute for
Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Her research focuses
on research-creation methodologies, walking research, feminist
and queer/trans theories, and feminist new materialist theories of
the inhuman. She has a particular focus in theories of matter,
movement and affect. Her research-creation projects are docu-
mented at www.thepedagogicalimpulse.com, www.walkinglab.
org, and www.artistsoupkitchen.com. She has published widely in
academic journals and is the coauthor of Walking Methodologies
in a More-Than-Human World: WalkingLab (Routledge, 2017);
coeditor of the book M/othering a Bodied Curriculum:
Emplacement, Desire, Affect (University of Toronto Press, 2012);
coeditor of Curriculum and the Cultural Body (Peter Lang, 2007);
and author of Body Knowledge and Curriculum: Pedagogies of
Touch in Youth and Visual Culture (Peter Lang, 2008). www.
stephaniespringgay.com.
Sarah E. Truman is a PhD candidate at University of Toronto
in a Collaborative Program of Curriculum Studies (OISE) and
Book History and Print Culture (Massey College). Her research
focuses on emergent literacies and intertextuality, walking and
writing, and new materialist theories of the inhuman. She has a
particular focus in theories of affect, movement, and specula-
tive thought. She is a national award winning author for travel
writing (National Magazine Awards), the author of Searching
for Guan Yin (White Pine, 2011), the coauthor of Walking
Methodologies in a More-Than-Human World: WalkingLab
(Routledge, 2017), and coeditor of Pedagogical Matters: New
Materialism and Curriculum Studies (Peter Lang, 2016). www.
sarahetruman.com.
... Inge: For the "jump-in-the-water" we described earlier, we need to be in the moment and to experience "the speculative middle" what Springgay and Truman (2018) with the words of Deleuze and Guattari describe as "a transversal movement" (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 25;cited in Springgay and Truman 2018, 206). In the middle, modes of thinkingmaking-doing come from within the processes themselves, not from outside them … and being there requires full acceptance of this unknown space. ...
... As a researcher you are part of the world you study and you engage with it. You start deeply from radical relationality (Springgay and Truman 2018). ...
... Writing a theatre script and performing it with educators to bring in multi-perspectivism in inclusive pedagogical practices (Van de Putte et al. 2019); using animation in the collective power of memories/ stories (De Schauwer et al. 2017); inviting children into research on belonging by handing them cameras to film their most special places in the school (Daelman, De Schauwer, and Van Hove 2021); working together with filmmakers and performance artists to make visible unheard voices (Vandenbussche et al. 2020;Vangoidsenhoven and De Schauwer 2020) are just a few examples from our colleagues' research-creation trajectories. Springgay and Truman (2018) posit that relationality is intrinsic to research-creation. Relationality with our research topics, our participants, and the contexts of our research has moved both of us to the depths of what "our" topics mean for our research participants, of our understanding of how these topics matter and can be made to matter to the world. ...
... Complementary calls in the methodological literature point to the central role of methodological sensitivity and reflexivity in the academic knowledge production (e.g. Springgay & Truman, 2018). In recent literature, a notion of 'care' could also be found in calls for more careful and reflexive academic research (e.g. ...
... Without the microscope, the physicist is unable to observe atoms directly, and the microscope requires an operator; together they produce a methodological apparatus in that no distinction between the researcher and the device can be made as only together can they perform the empirical task. With an ironic motto "Not simply intervene, enact the between" Barad and other scholars (Hultin, 2019;Prinsloo, 2019;Springgay & Truman, 2018;Taguchi, 2012) argue that in social sciences, similarly, the choice of methods and methods assemblages directly relates to kinds of knowledges they produce about the world. ...
Thesis
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Data are increasingly interwoven in various aspects of our social lives. In our everyday and professional lives many kinds of data are produced, as we make online searches via search engines, chat with loved ones and friends via social media, or use a maps app on our smartphone to find our way in an unfamiliar place. To use these digital data for decision-making, and literally anything else, people rely on computational technologies. With these, digital data can be processed, recombined, operated with, used, and sold. Going hand in hand with the pervasiveness of data in our society is the process of datafication. Researchers across manifold academic disciplines and fields from computer science to sociology, media studies, communication research, humanities, and education research are working on topics concerning this datafied society. In the recent years, this body of academic work has been consolidating under the terms ‘critical data studies’ or just ‘data studies’, drawing on various ontological, epistemological, theoretical, and methodological approaches to studying datafication processes. How, then, in this manifold of perspectives, academic knowledge about datafication processes and our datafied societies is produced? What is ‘critical’ in data studies? How do scholars conducting research on datafication reflect about “what matters we use to think other matters with;” (Haraway, 2016, p. 12) in their studies? With my thesis, I advance our understanding of how what is known about datafication and datafied societies is produced. I show how empirical datafication research produces re-situated conceptualisations of datafication and discuss the role of critique in data studies. I propose "care-ful data studies" as a pathway for further, generative, care-ful critique, contributing to the literature bridging data studies with feminist traditions of thought.
... Dr Theresa Harada was employed at the beginning of 2020 as a postdoctoral research assistant on the project because of her extensive experience as a qualitative research interviewer. I, instead, planned to conduct a series of postqualitative research interviews based on a walking method like the one I had used in the past and which was more closely aligned with my own theoretical orientation (see Boyd & Hughes, 2020;Springgay & Truman, 2018). However, due to state border closures, the walking interviews had to be abandoned and all interviews were formally conducted by Dr Harada online after potential participants had made initial contact with me via the chat function on the study's social media page. ...
Chapter
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In this chapter, Boyd summarises the Engaging Youth in Regional Australia (EYRA) Study whose findings formed the basis of the touring art exhibition called ‘Finding Home’. Rooted in placed-based understandings of youth belonging and well-being, the study sought to challenge some of the long-standing assumptions about young people’s internal migration decisions in regional Australia. Specifically, the study’s findings support an enhanced understanding of regional youth engagement that takes into account the affective and material dimensions of young people’s relationships with regional places.
... We lean on other scholars in the field. Lather (2006), Kuntz (2015Kuntz ( , 2018Kuntz ( , 2019Kuntz ( , 2021, Kuby and Christ (2019), Freeman and colleagues (2007), hooks (1994,2013), Springgay and Truman (2018), Tuck and Yang (2014); Koro-Ljungberg (2015). During our meetings, we share materials and examples. ...
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