(Re)defining the Gender Apparatus: Implications for Research Methodologies In and Beyond Education

Year: 2017

Author: Pasley

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Barad (2007) suggests that meaning and matter emerge from the intra-action of phenomena; apparatuses of existence. Each iteration opens up an infinite potential of becomings, though what can occur is contextually limited. Therein, one phenomenon cannot be understood in isolation, as all phenomena are mutually constituted; read through one another. While outside of a New Materialist lens, Taylor, Hines, and Casey (2010) have observed the mutual constitution of gender, sexuality, sex, race, culture, religion, class, and ability in cisheteronormativity. In line with Barad (2007), I argue that New Materialism provides a manner of (re)conceiving and embodying gender beyond Butler's (1990) discursive performativity, as people's sense of gender emerge from each material-discursive iteration of their existences. To begin with, this provides a means of engaging with gender fluidity and stability on the same terms, while acknowledging the intra-secting phenomena that generate their selfhood. It also validates individuals' ability to locate their sense of gender in spaces that have often been considered outside of the domain of gender. It enables one to address agender spectra in a way that is not conditionally referential to gender identities. And it highlights silences that often go unheard amidst normative expectations of gender performativity. These new modes of engaging with gender emphasise the importance of practising research methodologies that can converse with (as opposed to speak to) all gender identities. This is particularly relevant in the context of more recent generations of gender non-conforming young people who are tending to align with "more disruptive, fluid and inconsistent" gender identities (Jones et al., 2016, p.156). Informed by (post)qualitative research methodologies (Koro-Ljungberg, 2015; Lather & St Pierre, 2013), which interrogate how certain approaches may confine the possibilities of data, I explore how various approaches can assist researchers with the discerning treatment of gender in (post)qualitative and quantitative research, and professional practice in and beyond educational settings.