19 SES 02 A, Paper Session
Launching a project about the learning lives of young university students (PID2019-108696RB-I00) from a post-qualitative perspective (Lather & St. Pierre, 2013; St. Pierre, 2019), encouraged us to pay more attention to the practices of power and agencies that are usually missed on research relationships. Specifically, about those voices of silence, sometimes inaudible, sometimes ignored, sometimes misunderstood, but always present (Mazzei, 2003). Types of voices that usually contain privileges; voices that hide or launder the positionings we take in our work. That which is tacit, what cannot or will not be said, or even the actions that lie behind the silence, constantly hide an exercise of resistance, even of power, or minor slips, or simply non-responsiveness (Stuedahl, 2010). Lafuente (2020) says that silence exists when there is a signal that we cannot, will not or have no desire to detect. However, all those types of silences demand that we stop to think about the information they give us and also about the affects they produce.
Silences are commonly present in the conversations that qualitative researchers take part in. Mazzei (2003) has thought about the different aspects that silences can adopt, such as polite silences, privileged silences, veiled silences, intentional silences, or even, unintelligible silences. Other authors, such as Le Breton (2016), explore the multiple dimensions of silence in relation to conversation, its politics, its disciplines or even the ways it expresses itself. Scott (2018), on the other hand, focuses on what cannot be identified, non-identity or what has fallen into silence through a sociology of absences.
Different research perspectives framed within the new materialisms, take into consideration the agency of silence, often in order to move away from the discursive determinism which tends to naturalize power relationships (Frost, 2011). The difficulty involved in putting words to what previously did not exist in language, to the voiceless, the silent, the unspeakable, the prelinguistic or that which simply cannot be described, is something about which the author Hirschauer (2007) made us aware. This kind of movements, which stem from different works (Morison & Macleod, 2014; Murray & Durrheim, 2019), pursue a break with the humanist stance of qualitative research that continues to not pay attention to the gaps, jumps or absences that become entangled in the realities being researched. As the author Mazzei (2003) suggests “one of the important requirements to listen to silence is to be attentive to the possible inhabitants of silence” (p. 367). It is from this perspective that "we are obliged to recognize that data has its ways of becoming intelligible for us” (MacLure, 2013, p. 660). Therefore, it is necessary to adopt an approach that allows us to reinterpret those absences or heterogeneous forms that the voice acquires through its contradictions, performativities and embodied and ideological forms.
It is a need that we have placed at the forefront of our agenda as researchers, even placing ourselves in a position of vulnerability, often in order to face situations of uncertainty in which we begin to question whether what we took for granted and true on other occasions needs to be reviewed at this time. However, we echo other works (Rogowska-Stangret & Cielemęcka, 2020) that far from considering it as a weakness, assume vulnerability as a device that allows challenging power relations and fragments of reality that normally go unnoticed. Vulnerability becomes strength as long as it allows us to collectively think about all those structures and forms of power that we generally ignore (Aberasturi-Apraiz et al., 2020). Even though it can be a source of discomfort, it also allows adopting positions of greater ethical depth in our studies.
Much the same as Lafuente (2020), we are also interested in the silences caused by shared questions; that is why in this last project we have made the decision to adopt a series of strategies that address them. We agree with Chadwick (2020) when she points out that we need to develop alternative and imaginative ways to trace those absences, jumps or silences that occur in our works. On this occasion, we have chosen to develop the following three strategies cited below: - Reflexivity of Discomfort During this last project we have favored periodic meetings between the different researchers who are taking part in the research. Spaces where we allow ourselves to collectively share the discomfort and uncertainty that emerge from a project in constant development. The author Pillow (2003) uses the notion of `uncomfortable reflexivity ́ as an exercise that seeks to know, while at the same time characterizing this knowing as tenuous. A methodological tool that allows us to interrupt data gathering practices, to consider the evidence collected as "folds of the known" (p. 192) rather than "truths". - Nomadic positioning A nomadic positioning during the development of our collaboration facilitates the observation of the different socio-educational events that we approach from multiple lenses. Braidotti (2014) points out that nomadic writing allows us to negotiate the political positions that we hold regarding our reality, and thus not make them invisible through statements that are increasingly distant from the contexts we have explored. Based on similar approximations (Johansson et al., 2021), throughout our work we have favored the exchange of field notes between the different researchers, in such a way that new ethical questions, affections or events have begun to emerge. In this way, we have been able to start to question our most consolidated and naturalized positions in research, which in most cases are hidden or silenced. - Care Ethics The feminist perspective of social research (Burgess-Proctor, 2015) has eagerly sought to reduce the distance between researchers and participants. One of its strategies, which we have also made our own, is to carry out an ethic of care (Benhabib, 1985; Gilligan, 2013) in order to promote respect and emotional support to those who have altruistically allowed us to get to know them better. In our work we have begun to explore new ways of more creative and collaborative writing which encourage more equitable forms of participation in the construction of meanings.
This research work about learning trajectories of young university students that we started in 2020, from a theoretical position close to the so-called new materialisms or new empiricisms, made us face different ethical, ontological and epistemological challenges within educational research; some of them related to how to explore the practices that we have normally placed out of focus, because they are uncomfortable or simply go unnoticed within the relationship frameworks that we build. However, driven by the desire to continue advancing towards a greater ethical and inclusive kind of research, on this occasion, we have decided to explore new strategies that contribute to pay greater attention to the ways in which silence is articulated through different forms of power or oppression. A movement with which we unbalance the most colonizing positions of traditional qualitative research and allows us to continue advancing towards a more complex reading of the political and embodied dimension of communication and relationships in research. As Elena Casado (2007) points out, thinking about them in the plural, as translations, as artefactual articulations and partial, multiple and contingent connections that occur in the social research practices in which we participate; conforming relational assemblages of voices and silences that are entangled in unpredictable and unstable ways. Something for which it is necessary, as Mazzei (2004, p. 28) says, to "devise strategies to listen to the silence and take its promise seriously". Conceiving the vibrant force of silence (Bennett, 2010) in our works, under the same non-hierarchical and ontological plane to which our methodological history in social research has not submitted, frequently in favour of the spoken word.
Aberasturi-Apraiz, E., Correa, J. M., & Martínez-Arbelaiz, A. (2020). Researcher Vulnerability in Doing Collaborative Autoethnography: Moving to a Post-Qualitative Stance. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 21(3), Article 3. https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-21.3.3397 Benhabib, S. (1985). The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controvers and Feminist Theory. PRAXIS International, 5(4), 402-424. https://www.ceeol.com/search/article-detail?id=262242 Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Duke University Press. Braidotti, R. (2014). Writing as a Nomadic Subject. Comparative Critical Studies, 11(2-3), 163-184. https://doi.org/10.3366/ccs.2014.0122 Burgess-Proctor, A. (2015). Methodological and ethical issues in feminist research with abused women: Reflections on participants’ vulnerability and empowerment. Women’s Studies International Forum, 48, 124-134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2014.10.014 Casado, E. (2007). La des/reconstrucción de la comunicación en las sociedades de la información. Crítica feminista y comunicacion, 2007, ISBN 978-84-96082-39-7, págs. 82-109, 82-109. https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=6198980 Chadwick, R. (2020). Theorizing voice: Toward working otherwise with voices. Qualitative Research. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794120917533 Frost, S. (2011). The Implications of the New Materialisms for Feminist Epistemology. En H. E. Grasswick (Ed.), Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science: Power in Knowledge (pp. 69-83). Springer Netherlands. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6835-5_4 Gilligan, C. (2013). La ética del cuidado. Fudació Victor Grífols i Lucas. Hirschauer, S. (2007). Puttings things into words. Ethnographic description and the silence of the social. Human Studies, 29(4), 413. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10746-007-9041-1 Johansson, L., Moe, M., & Nissen, K. (2021). Researching research affects: In-between different research positions. Qualitative Research, 1468794120985683. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794120985683 Lafuente, A. (2020). Compositorio de silencios. La Ortiga, 131, 28-37. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2682624 Lather, P., & St. Pierre, E. A. (2013). Post-qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 26(6), 629-633. https://doi.org/10.1080/09518398.2013.788752 Le Breton, D. (2016). El silencio. Aproximaciones. Ediciones Sequitur. MacLure, M. (2013). Researching without representation? Language and materiality in post-qualitative methodology. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education for Information, 26(6), 658-667. https://doi.org/10.1080/09518398.2013.788755 Mazzei, L. A. (2003). Inhabited Silences: In Pursuit of a Muffled Subtext. Qualitative Inquiry, 9(3), 355-368. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800403009003002 Mazzei, L. A. (2004). Silent Listenings: Deconstructive Practices in Discourse-Based Research. Educational Researcher, 33(2), 26-34. Morison, T., & Macleod, C. (2014). When veiled silences speak: Reflexivity, trouble and repair as methodological tools for interpreting the unspoken in discourse-based data. Qualitative Research, 14(6), 694-711. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794113488129 Murray, A. J., & Durrheim, K. (2019). Qualitative Studies of Silence. Cambridge University Press. Parpart, J. (2020). Rethinking silence, gender, and power in insecure sites: Implications for feminist security studies in a postcolonial world. Review of International Studies, 46(3), 315-324. https://doi.org/10.1017/S026021051900041X
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