Troubling dissemination: experimentations with the salon as conference event

Year: 2012

Author: Knight, Linda, Cumming, Tamara

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This paper explores how a research network enabled those interested in Deleuzian theories to think about how such theories might inform our early years research activities.

For Deleuze and Guattari (1987), assemblages are constantly shifting and under transformation, therefore the human act is also constantly shifting and immanent to other forces. In a Deleuzian sense the subject is part of the assemblage, not in the centre of the picture. The subject is part of the scene but is no more important than any other aspect of the assemblage.

How might this play out in research dissemination and presentation? In reference to conferences, how might assemblages of chairs, tables, bodies, lights, space, technology, sound, colour, organization be troubled?

Salons became popular in Europe in 17th Century as sites of philosophic and literary conversation. In the Salon as event, groups came together to share knowledge through conversation. We took the idea of the Salon and theorized upon it and experimented with it. Our Salon evening sought to trouble conventions around academic disseminations. In the Salon, the subject is de-centred as it forms only part of the assemblages of sounds, lights, bodies, furniture, food, music, smells, atmospheres, temperatures.

We were keen to challenge a desire or habit of placing the human at the centre in the presentation and dissemination of research.

CRN researcher (HDR student, Tamara Cumming) discusses her Salon presentation Deleuze and play-dough: a reading. This presentation used Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) conceptualisations of 'rhizomes', 'assemblages', and Masny's (2012) conceptualisation of  'research events' to 'read' a vignette from earlier research, and to consider the implications of this reading on the place of researcher-as-subject within 'research events'.

This conceptualization of a research event as a reading fits well with the ethos of the Salon as traditional ways of approaching and presenting research could be disrupted. This paper reflects upon the different entryways that traditional, and Deleuzian-inspired approaches offer for interpreting, or reading, a particular research event, and their different conceptualisations of progressions from, or with this research event. The ruptures that occurred through the conjunction of disparate elements (such as play-dough, electronic presentation, researchers) in the Salon assemblage are discussed, and lastly, the possible implications of Deleuze's de-centred subject for researchers' positionality, and their negotiation of power differentials in research events is considered.