Getting to know Basanti: Messing with methodologies in an interview assemblage

Year: 2021

Author: Germein, Susan

Type of paper: Symposium

Getting to know Basanti: Messing with methodologies in an interview assemblage.After UNDESD (2005 – 2014), reviews and critiques have continued calls for attention to locality and place, diverse cultural voices and alternative pedagogies in developing educational responses to global ecological challenges. In response to these calls, my doctoral research, set in a unique educational community in India, aims to unsettle western ideas about education by sharing a connected socio-ecological pedagogical experience from the global south. With reference to an interview conducted across language and cultural divides, this paper proposes new materialisms, based on the work of Karen Barad and others, as an ethical and response-able approach to inhabiting an intercultural space and as a responsible approach to issues of representing our/my experience.Without jettisoning the methods of an interpretive ethnography, the inquiry embraces a productive muddling of methodology, facilitated through thinking theory with Barad and Deleuze. There is a movement from qualitative interpretive ethnographic methods towards concepts as method in a post qualitative inquiry: an emergence of desire for matterings over meanings, for diffraction over reflection, and for writing that animates materialities, affects and doings over interpretive accounts. Knowing that some would call a post qualitative ethnography a contradiction in terms, I enact it anyway. There’s a joyful reconfiguration of agency as a mutual matter, and an openness to serendipity in the assemblage. An ethical responsibility to my hosts makes inevitable a deterriorializing of data-ing, analysis, and representation. Rather than observing a river from a fixed point on the bank, ‘a minor science takes to a boat and becomes part of the flow it wants to fully understand’ (Fox & Alldred, 2018:10). In a performative fashion, this paper asks “what does it (event/chapter/encounter) do?” rather than “what does it mean?”, while inviting the reader into a generous intercultural space at Lakshmi Ashram.This presentation explores how messing with methodologies plays out, sharing material from a diffractive ‘interview’ assemblage of translanguaging, inhabited silences, affect, bodies and spatialities, laptop and iphone, Hindi learning, transcription, transliteration, translation, histories, memories, cultural translation, imagery and a third person. What’s evident is that within this intercultural context, a working across theoretical/inquiry paradigms is entirely commensurable: the relational ontology implicit in new materialism and posthumanism offers an ethics – or in Barad’s words an ethico-onto-epistemology – that guides the research in a responsible and response-able way. The sometimes uncomfortable space between inquiry paradigms is a generous and creative space to inhabit, and hopefully, to make a contribution to reimagining education research.