Writing for what? Exploring difference, notions of impact, and social justice through storying

Year: 2019

Author: Yoo, Joanne, Tuinamuana, Katarina

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this presentation, we offer micro-stories of our everyday embodied social practices of writing in academia. We experiment with alternative autoethnographic writing forms to explore the invisible and marginalised discourses of academic work. In doing this, we foreground alternative discourses, thereby acknowledging that knowledge is multi-representational. We will share our lived struggles of writing in the academy, of engaging in evocative writing modes that do not conform to highly objective and structured modes of being, modes that are rooted in the techno-rationalistic assumptions that support narrow forms of production and measurement of our worth. Following the work of scholars such as Laurel Richardson, as well as performance-based writers (see the work of Stacy Holman Jones and Anne Harris), we investigate what it means to research and write in alternative ways that embrace the silences and the in-betweeness we carry as embodied academic subjects. Richardson (2002) says that she “writes to find things out” (p. 417) - a deceptively simple expression of the deeply embedded practices that can emerge from this approach. She further proposes that writing differently “creates a welcoming space for persons who have other ways of knowing; demystifies claims to textual authority; expands techniques and strategies for knowing and telling; and helps to avoid the chasm many feel exists between their ‘work’ and their ‘lives’ (Richardson, 2002, p. 417). Guided by similar beliefs, we share our journey into ‘writing differently’ through the key readings that have shaped our understanding of what it means to write meaningfully in the academy. We have found that these vibrant writing forms give hopeful expression to the tacit and embodied forms of knowing that underpin our subjectivities as female academics unsure of our positioning in Australian academia. Through presenting our stories we hope to demonstrate an alternative entry into using the medium of writing to help shape ‘Education for a Socially Just World.’