‘We are no longer ourselves’: Unraveling the harmonics of the collaborative voice in educational research

Year: 2014

Author: David, Rousell, Amy, Cutter-Mackenzie, Alexandra, Cutcher

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

‘To reach, not the point where one no longer says I, but the point where it is no longer of any importance whether one says I. We are no longer ourselves...we have been aided, inspired, multiplied’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 3). Collaborative methods have historically been promoted and applied in the field of educational research, often assuming the form of collaborations between multiple researchers, or collaborations between researchers, teachers and students involved with a research project. Collaboration is often heralded as an ethical and empowering practice that contributes to the authenticity of a given study by weaving multiple voices into both the research process and its forms of dissemination. Despite this proliferation of collaborative methods in educational research, very little analysis has so far been applied to the varieties of collaboration, how these methods actually function, or what might constitute an authentic collaboration in education and its research. Each of the three authors of the paper has come to educational research from a different professional background: one as an environmental educator, another as an arts educator, and a third as a contemporary artist. Educational research offers a unique space for us to collaborate, and indeed reflect on our own experiences of collaboration in our professional and personal lives. In moving between our own and each other’s narratives, we attempt to unravel the harmonics of the collaborative voice in educational research, in which the singular voice of the ‘author’ also gives voice to multiple others. We explore the differences between direct and indirect collaborations, what Carter (2004) has also called ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ collaborations, and collaboration as a certain kind of ‘correspondence’ between people, places and things in the world (Ingold, 2013). What then are the particular attributes and flexibilities of educational research which afford such interdisciplinary collaborations, correspondences, and ultimately, transformations? In addressing this question, we posit collaboration in educational research as more than just working with each other towards mutual goals. Rather, we suggest that authentic collaboration involves a mutual transformation of each and the other, a harmonic re-imagining of individual voices to the point that ‘we are no longer ourselves’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 3).