The conference here is slowly starting. Yesterday there was a panel discussion between Yvonna S. Lincoln, Ann Merete Otterstad, Harry Torrance, Maggie MacLure and Norman Denzin (these people do really exist!) who discussed the need of critical methodologies that won't rely on normative science, or using it in ways that resist. Qualitative research as a political and activist force was an issue here, too. The conference theme this year is Constructing a new critical inquiry.
Some flashes of the discussion:
Harry Torrance: Science is about curiosity, not only definitive proof. It is peculiar that the researcher's focus on proof seems to be so much more important than possibilities.
Ann Merete Otterstad: There is no knowledge to be found out there. You have to start where you live and work.
Maggie: Why critque has somehow become a problem for materially engaged sholars? One problem is that intentionality and consciousness might not be only human. The ways of criticaliy that are familiar now precondition the human subject and produces those who know and those who are known. We are immersed in the assemblages that we are trying to master. Second, criticality is often a backward looking business, not interested in asking what comes next? Critique could be a combination of care and a kind of recklessness. Not simply being categorising and judging.
Norman Denzin: I can become an agent in the kind of change I want to. Writing as a way of being in the world. Before, we used to be reading culture over the shoulders of the natives we studied. It was textualism. The stories and the aticles in journals that we publis have a minimal impact.
Yvonna Lincoln: Teach about conflicts, the latest arguments, try to make students aware these are not simple and unproblematic.
Maggie: We noticed that through conventional argumentative styles of convincing we often ended up reinforcing old assumptions. Instead, we found powerful ways of convincing through working with artists in ways in which people were not told "this is the right way to think, this is how you should think."
Critical in a nutshell?
Maggie: Who is helped and who is hurt? In new materialist ethics you don't stop with the question so that you are the one who notices and knows. The capacity to affect and to be affected.. Who benefits?
Harry: In whose interest a particular activty is taken? Not a single answer. To leave the illusion that what we do, has anticipated consequenses. There is not one single version of social justice.