Temporality, place and politics: time's arrow and the life and times of research questions

Year: 2017

Author: McLeod, Julie, Higginson, Jo

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this symposium we engage with the conference theme: Education: what's politics got to do with it? through a consideration of politics' entanglement with the histories, temporalities and places that inform the lives and journeys of our research questions. We draw on Jane Miller's idea of "the autobiography of the question" (Miller 1995). Our research gaze is informed by our biographical and professional experience and its intersection with more public experiences and ideas of history and politics - our intellectual responses to and embedment within the zeitgeist of our times.

Questions emerge or are seen as demanding attention at particular times (McLeod 2013: 180). Complex non-linear relations between past, present and future shape both us as researchers and the subjects and objects of our research. Time's arrow continues to travel as we set up and engage with our research projects; our initial research imaginaries may collide with new political realities along the way. The papers in this symposium offer methodological and conceptual insights into the different registers of temporality that inform the imagining, the doing and the analysing of research. We consider the collision of temporalities and politics in the real time of research lives and research questions, understood as guides not mandates, as a licence to investigate and therefore subject to detour and new directions. This approach includes giving robust acknowledgement to the historicity, locations and political realities of our research endeavour

Our orientations and perspectives are powerfully shaped by our location - we are all researchers based in Melbourne. Some of us are researching people, localities and events based in or bound up with other places, nationally and internationally, underscoring the interconnections of space and time in how research takes place. Each of the papers draws from particular qualitative, historically informed studies and in combination they seek to draw out the analytic affordances of tracing the life, times and trajectories of our research questions.

Our approaches resonate with feminist oriented work that seeks to disrupt rigid, scalar categories and binary thinking, looking at key concepts such as the personal and the political, the local or intimate and the global, the past and the present, not as terms that are "defined against one another but rather draw their meaning from more elliptically related domains." (Pratt and Rosner 2012 in Mitchell and Kallio 2017:2).