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Thirteenth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry

May 17-20, 2017
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This talk addresses the political and theoretical implications of critical arts-based inquiry. Critical arts-based research is a performative research methodology that is structured on the notion of possibility, the what might be, of a research tradition that is postcolonial, pluralistic, ethical, and transformative in positive ways. Exemplars of social and political resistance to post-09/11/01 neoliberalism and its propaganda will be used to demonstrate theoretical practices and research imaginaries made possible by arts-and-research political action. I will address some of the key questions for critical arts-based research: What is the future of arts-based research in a post-qualitative world? What are the implications for resistance politics in bioarts, biopoetics, and ecoaesthetics? What are the practices of imagination in performances of arts, research, and social justice?

‘I can see, but do I live?’: ‘Transforming Research’ as an Issue of Social Justice and Human Rights for Indigenous Peoples, Graham Hingangaroa Smith, University of Waikato

The term ‘transforming research’ is deliberately used ambiguously. Both meanings are intended. Given the persistent situation of high and disproportionate levels of social, economic and cultural underdevelopment debilitating most indigenous communities there is a need to be more vigilant about ensuring effective, transforming research. In this regard there is a need to challenge both the processes (how we research) as well as the outcomes (what changes?) as a result of our qualitative research approaches. In this paper I examine a number of issues that arise out of the Māori Education struggle in New Zealand that have potential to inform other indigenous jurisdictions seeking more equitable and socially just outcomes. Implicit in these arguments are ‘teachings’ for the development of qualitative research inquiry that more effectively confronts and engages with social justice and human rights concerns.

The theme of the 2017 Congress is “Qualitative Inquiry in the Public Sphere.” There has never been a greater need for a critical qualitative inquiry that matters in the public sphere. We live in the audit cultures of global neoliberalism. The politics of evidence that define the audit culture marginalize critical inquiry. Our challenge is to push back, to resist, to redefine the place of the academy, indigenous epistemologies and the public intellectual in these public spaces. This is a call for interpretive, critical, performative qualitative research that matters in the lives of those who daily experience social injustice. This us a call for inquiry that addresses inequities in the economy, education, employment, the environment, health, housing, food, water; inquiry that embraces the global cry for peace and justice.

There is a need to unsettle traditional concepts of what counts as research, as evidence, as legitimate inquiry. How can such work become part of the public conversation? Who can speak for whom? How are voices to be represented. Can we forge new models of performance, representation, intervention and praxis. Can rethink what we mean by ethical inquiry? Can we train a new generation of engaged scholars and community leaders. What counts as scholarship in the neoliberal public sphere. Can we imagine new models of accountability, how do we talk about impact, change, change for whom?

The age of social media has erased traditional understandings of the public sphere, private life, personal troubles, and civil society. The 2017 Congress offers scholars the opportunity to foreground, interrogate, imagine and engage new ways of doing qualitative inquiry in the neoliberal public sphere. Sessions will take up such topics as: redefinitions of the public university, preoccupations with neoliberal accountability metrics, 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 Thirteenth 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.

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, p.59).

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