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Twelfth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry
May 18-21, 2016
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

QUALITATIVE INQUIRY IN NEOLIBERAL TIMES
We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time (T. S. Elliot, No 4 of Four Quartets, 1942).

Keynotes:
Qualitative methodology and the new materialisms: do we need a new conceptual vocabulary?
Maggie MacLure, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

I consider the implications for qualitative methodology of the recent (re)turn to mate­riality across the social sciences and humanities. The ‘new materialisms’ promise to go beyond the old antagonisms of nature and culture, science and the social, discourse and matter. But they also challenge core assumptions: that agency and consciousness are the prerogative of human subjects; that data wait to be animated by human interest; that interpretation, understanding, analysis and explanation are fundamental to qualitative inquiry. Even critique itself has been challenged as ‘the privileged key for reading the modern epoch’ (Stengers). I consider an alternative conceptual vocabulary for qualitative method drawn from new materialist thought. This might include infection, adventure, dosage, experiment, wonder, affect and interest. Perhaps the most urgent question for critical qualitative research, and for the Congress in particular is this: does criticality, as the work of intentional, human, interpreting agents, still have a place in our theories and our research practices? And if not, what shall we do?

All I Really Need to Know About Qualitative Research I Learned in High School
Johnny Saldaña, Arizona State University

Robert Fulgham’s classic essay, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” is the inspiration for this keynote address. Johnny Saldaña draws humorous parallels between high school culture and the world of qualitative inquiry. Such cultural compo­nents of adolescent education include cliques, bullies, popularity, learning new subjects, and first-time experiences. This address examines how qualitative researchers replicate in hybrid forms typical aspects of high school life through their methodologies, epistemolo­gies, publications, leaders, and interpersonal relationships. The satiric comparison of two cultural worlds suggests that the field of qualitative inquiry is still in adolescent develop­ment with much more growth yet a promising future ahead.

The theme of the 2016 Congress is “Qualitative Inquiry in Neoliberal Times”. Critical qualitative research is under assault. Qualitative scholars struggle to obtain tenure, their research is often underfunded, the journals they publish in are given low impact scores. Scholars around the world, inside and outside the academy, struggle against the regulatory practices of neoliberalism. The 12th International Congress offers scholars the opportunity to foreground, interrogate and resist these practices, to engage in a politics of advocacy, pro and con, to form coalitions, to engage in debate on how qualitative researchers can resist the pres­sures of neoliberalism. The Congress will be an arena for advancing the causes of social justice, while addressing racial, ethnic, gender and environmental dispari­ties in education, welfare and healthcare.

Sessions will take up such topics as: tenure battles, redefinitions of the public university, preoccupations with neoliberal accountability metrics (journal impact factors, teaching evaluations, research funding scores), attacks on freedom of speech, threats to shared governance, the politics of advocacy, value-free inquiry, partisanship, the politics of evidence, alternatives to evidence-based models, pub­lic policy discourse, indigenous research ethics, decolonizing inquiry.

Scholars come to the Congress to resist, to celebrate community, to experiment with traditional and new methodologies, with new technologies of representa­tion. Together we seek to develop guidelines and exemplars concerning advocacy, inquiry and social justice concerns. We share a commitment to change the world, to engage in ethical work what makes a positive difference. As critical scholars our task is to bring the past and the future into the present, allowing us to engage realistic utopian pedagogies of hope.

Scholars from around the world have accepted the challenge to gather together in common purpose to collectively imagine creative and critical responses to a global community in crisis. The Twelfth International Congress offers us an opportunity to experiment, take risks, explore new presentational forms, share experiences, problems and hopes concerning the conduct of critical qualitative inquiry in this time of global uncertainty.
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