22 SES 11 A, Where Does Theory Come from in Higher Education? Tales from the Field.
This presentation discusses the political, epistemological and ethical aspects of doing research with Maltese women educators in the construction of knowledge about teaching and its relation to maternal practices. Mothering the research process is here understood in terms of the researcher’s responsibilities in creating spaces and events in higher education that bring together different women in conversations with each other. It draws on the feminist philosophical arguments of Luce Irigaray that point to the way women have been silenced and excluded in the public construction of knowledge and in the institutional practice of philosophy. Irigaray explains how women’s social constructions as maternal subjects have rendered them an unacknowledged base for men’s quest for knowledge. Yet she also argues that women can become creators of their own knowledges that emerge from their sexually differentiated positions. Taking my cue from Irigaray’s call for women to actively involve themselves to subvert the conservative, limited and essentialist meanings of what it is to mother, and taking into account the Maltese socio-cultural contexts of mothering I shall argue that the generation of theory in higher education can be conceived as a process by which the researcher “mothers” the creation of new knowledge in relation to existing bodies of knowledge as well as in relation to women participants. My paper will therefore problematise some important methodological aspects of research in Higher Education, particularly concerning women educators as subjects of knowledge. I will conclude with the reflection that the generation of theory in higher education can be conceived as a process of becoming by which one gives birth to oneself as speaking subject in relation to others and in relation to the birth of new knowledges.
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