Ethnographic Practice and New Materialist Onto-Epistemologies

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Abstract

This paper asks how new materialist onto-epistemologies (Braidotti, 2013) reshape our understanding of ethnographic writing, fieldwork and interviewing, well-attested methods in the social sciences. The feminist strand of new materialism this paper follows (Barad, 2007; Haraway, 2008; Braidotti, 2013) questions two common practices in ethnography: (1) the presentation of ethnographic insights as mirroring research participants’ experiences, and (2) the erasure of researchers’ subjectivity and positioning within the intersecting axes of difference and power that structure the social field (i.e. race, gender, ability, age, social class, sexuality, neurodiversity etc.) .
Positivist research paradigms, still dominating the social sciences, induce qualitative researchers to obliterate themselves from their research output, even if they are part of it.
The concept of intra- actions (Barad, 2007) combined with Donna Haraway’s situated knowledges (1988) provide the grounds to argue for the onto-epistemological, ethical and political validity of knowledges marked by strong positionality and co-produced through inevitably asymmetrical research rapports. This stance demands researchers to be self-reflexive and reflexive of systemic power differentials, and their impact on the research process. It also fosters the insurrection subjugated knowledges (Stryker, 2006; Foucault, 2010; Bauer, 2014).
I first elaborated this new materialist approach to ethnography in my M.A. Thesis, a case study of a nursing home for the aged in England. In this paper, I would like to focus on the research rapports I could not discuss in my thesis. These are those with a participant who addressed me sexually, and the reaction of my supervisor and gatekeeper when I reported this.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017
EventLondon Conference in Critical Thought: Stream ‘Theorizing Ethics and Politics in Ethnographic Practice’ - London South Bank University, London, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Jun 20171 Jul 2017
http://londoncritical.org/

Conference

ConferenceLondon Conference in Critical Thought
CountryUK United Kingdom
CityLondon
Period30/06/171/07/17
Internet address

Keywords

  • Ethnography
  • Qualtiative
  • new materialism
  • Process Ontology
  • positionality
  • sociology
  • Social Sciences
  • Rosi Braidotti
  • Karen Barad
  • Donna Haraway
  • Cultural studies

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