33 SES 16 A, Transdisciplinary Feminism as Powerful Knowledge: Re-thinking Educational Research on Gender
Feminist scholars have long advocated working the hyphen (Fine, 1994), working the in-between (Walters, 2018), and working across borders (Anzaldúa, 1987). Such formulations recognise that traditional modes of disciplinary knowing erect barriers and boundaries which constrain feminist ways of being, knowing, learning and doing. In this paper, following those feminist scholars, I propose ‘starting somewhere else’ and ‘thinking otherwise’ (Taylor and Gannon, 2018; Taylor, 2021) as a means to prompt feminist transdisciplinary praxis, research and knowledge which contests dominant formulations which situate powerful knowledge as located in the disciplines. I take up ‘starting somewhere else’ as a way to conceptualise methodological, theoretical and activist feminist indiscipline which enables concepts, theories, empirics and practices to emerge, move, work and flow more freely across boundaries. Starting somewhere else is an invitation to experiment in learning, teaching and research; a provocation to develop a feminist way of being in the academy which supports work across higher education and gender; and an urgent political task for action and praxis in an accelerated academy which privileges speed, precarity, competition, performativity and self-commodification. Being a feminist academic in such a context requires agility, patience and resourcefulness and doing transdisciplinary feminist work often means working interstitially – in the cracks, gaps and fissures between things and across subjects, disciplines and fields. This presentation develops feminist trans(disciplinary)mattering as politically-inflected educational work which is ‘historically based [and] materialist’; which attends to how objects, things, materialities and humans come into being in relation; and which works with emergence, dynamism and curiosity. Indiscipline is often quite risky and you never know where it might lead (Taylor, 2020). The presentation draws on empirical data from three projects: the first on positionality, respectability and power in Higher Education; the second on walking and learning; and the third on university spaces in a large UK city. I discuss how these projects enabled and required feminist work across disciplines – education, human geography, sociology, urban studies, history, material culture studies, critical whiteness studies. I argue that ‘starting somewhere else’ is a productive feminist strategy for the development of new capacities and connections in the accelerated academy. As an entangled embodied and embedded mode of theory-methodology-praxis, feminist transdisciplinarity produces knowledge which aligns with feminist hope to forge relations with human and nonhuman others so together we can enhance our capacities for connection in what often seems like an uninviting, and sometimes openly hostile, academic space.
Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands/La Frontera: New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute. Fine, M. (1994). Working the hyphens: Reinventing self and other in qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Research (p. 70–82). Sage Publications, Inc. Taylor, C. A. and Gannon, S. (2018). Doing time and motion diffractively: academic life everywhere and all the time, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 31:6, 465-486. Taylor, C. (2020). Walking as trans(disciplinary)mattering: A speculative musing on acts of feminist indiscipline. In Taylor, C. A., Ulmer, J., and Hughes, C. (Eds.) Transdisciplinary Feminist Research: Innovations in Theory, Method and Practice. London: Routledge. Taylor, C. A. (2021). Knowledge matters: Five propositions concerning the reconceptualisation of knowledge in feminist new materialist, posthumanist and postqualitative approaches. In K. Murris (Ed.) Navigating the Postqualitative, New Materialist and Critical Posthumanist Terrain Across Disciplines: An Introductory Guide. Oxon: Routledge. Walters, S. (2018). Working the ‘in-between-spaces’ for transformation within the academy. South African Journal of Education, 38: 4, 1–9.
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