Situations of Knowing

Theories countering anthropocentrism have been on the rise in recent years. Criticisms of “correlationist” thinking and the range of speculative, post-­‐human, and non-­‐human  agencies proposed with those   arguments, have enacted an “ontological turn” beginning from matter/objects itself/themselves. Yet this has left the question of the researcher's subjectivity ambiguous. Notions of embodied or situated knowledges sit uncomfortably amongst these trends where a divestment of human subjectivity can be observed. As we approach our research objects, we continue to find that knowing and research are, as Gillian Rose has noted, “a messy business”: we are inevitably party to what Karen Barad terms “onto-­‐ epistemology”, the entangled nature of knowing and being, where the investigation is preceded by embodied  encounters. Tendencies transgressing  anthropocentrism  often  valorise  scientific objectivity and the embodied position of enunciation (“I research XYZ”) is underplayed. One consequence of this is that the unmarked (male, white) subject is reaffirmed, whilst the marked (female, queer, post-­‐colonial) subject sees continued erasure. Reflexive methods of research are endorsed in contemporary theory as a way of accounting for the researcher's own perspectives and positions and how these effect how knowledge is constructed. Yet Trinh T. Minh-­‐ha,  Donna Haraway and Karen Barad propose that reflexivity is insufficient as it implies mirroring an objective world back to a stable subject. Instead, they have theorised a diffractive methodology predicated on difference, which ultimately destabilizes the  researcher's fixed position and depicts embodied, partial, messy knowing as heterogeneous which leaves neither researcher nor researched untouched by the process.

The 2016 Goldsmiths Seminar will explore the persisting role of the embodied situatedness of the researcher. If we acknowledge the researcher, the tools, methods and the “research object” to be active and entangled agents, temporal and spatial becomings, we can think how, rather than re-­‐affirming a grounded, knowing subject, research which intimately engages with its material and discursive conditions might be involved in producing new subjectivities, epistemologies and temporalities.

Questions to consider can include but are not restricted to:
How are the knowledges that we bring to the research process related to the knowledge we produce? How can experimental forms of (academic) practice break with rigidities of scholarly conventions? What does it mean to deal with objects as passive material, as lively, doing things or as entanglements of knowing and being? How does the question of self-reflexivity/diffraction play out methodologically in our own research projects? What kind of implications would an approach towards the research object as not simply spatial, but also temporal have?

The seminar will combine presentations by the participants followed by discussion as well as a reading group/workshop.

Applicants are invited to submit a proposal for a 20-­‐minute paper presentation to to include:

  • title and an abstract of 200300 words
  • university affiliation, title of PhD research project, and brief bio.

Registration and deadline for abstracts is February 8th 2016. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by February 12th 2016.

Organising committee: Annie Goh, Neda Genova, Louise Rondel, Jon Shaw, Andrea Mason