Many of us enter into interdisciplinary studies with an innate sense that we would be personally dissatisfied, and that our research will be lacking, if we were to utilise a traditional, disciplinary lens. Our years in graduate school are thus spent navigating the disciplinary-based university system in an effort to build creative and inspired analytic frameworks. However, what are the real benefits of such a method and scholarly trajectory? What specific challenges does it pose for emerging scholars? And how exactly does it strengthen our scholarship and the reach of our research? These are the type of critical questions that I would like us to start asking as we open up this two-day symposium on interdisciplinarity and research methods.
The Genealogy of Unreason as Interdisciplinary Methodology
Beginning in Rosenzweig and continuing at least within the thought of Heidegger, Foucault, Levinas, and Derrida, the lineage of what has been labeled Continental philosophy has discovered a great problem with truth: since the time of Plato, truth has been attached to knowledge (episteme), and language (logos).
All subsequent epistemic cultures have been subject to the demands this triptych has placed upon all variations of thought – that they be “philosophical.”
Nowhere has the historical analysis of this “sacrifice of unreason” become a more overt methodology for interdisciplinary research than in the works of Foucault and Derrida. For Foucault interdisciplinarity was the ethical methodology of archaeology/genealogy which took its guidance from the macro view of cultural psychology; for Derrida interdisciplinarity was the micro view of a textual analysis which began in the historicity of Grammatology and evolved into the strict ethical concerns of Deconstruction. This presentation will briefly present Foucault and Derrida’s interdisciplinary responses to the history of truth termed “the metaphysics of presence” before giving way to an explication of one way their works might be applied methodologically.
Keywords: Logic, History, Interdisciplinary, Foucault, Rhetoric
Shaun Gamboa comparatively studies the history of the rhetoric, religion and philosophy of Ancient Greece and the Modern Continent. The goal of this undertaking has been to unearth the nature of the truth that has underscored the formation of the Western Canon, such that the structures which uphold patriarchy, capitalism, and creativity are revealed as naked.
Business of Knowledge Management
Unfortunately, methods are often considered in the narrow sense of empirical techniques developed within the social sciences. These techniques have their place, but they only begin to scratch the surface of what we do when we do academic work. An interdisciplinary context is a great occasion to think past this. It also brings with it the challenge of finding common ground in order to communicate across disciplines and fields. I will be arguing that we could start such a dialogue by addressing how each our individual projects relates to knowledge. Using my own research on trans people’s interactions with public polices in Montréal and Toronto, I will develop the notion of knowledge management. Knowledge management refers to the ways that we produce knowledge. It starts from three observations: 1- we all have to relate back to past academic work; 2- we all blend different kinds of knowledges in our academic writings; 3- we are involved in a form of labour. The first point simply means that we all have to situate our work vis-à-vis past scholarship. This is evident by looking at our bibliographies. We may offer radical critiques of past work, but we still engage with it. The second point acknowledges that our thinking process is not exclusively developed within the university. At the very least, we incorporate past academic work with our own life experience. The third point refers to the context that we work in. It underlines the labour needed for us to do the work we do (from maintenance crews to software development), as we well as the ways that our academic work provides many of us with the economic means to pay rent, eat and live. Knowledge management offers a loose framework with which we can begin to explore what it is we do.
Natalie Duchesne is a PhD candidate in Humanities Doctoral Program at Concordia University. Her work is anchored in Policies Studies and takes inspiration from sociological methods and Gender Studies. She is also active in the field of knowledge translation, that is, connecting university based knowledge to the outside community to promote empowerment and social justice.
Deconstructing an Ethnographic Film
In 2009 and 2010, I filmed and edited an ethnographic film on Cambodian landmine victims. While shooting in a village of Battambang, I depended on the good will of a non-governmental organization(NGO), run by various urban elite Cambodians as well as doctors and researchers from Norway. This drastically shaped my film from Battambang and this presentation will feature the film, but deconstructed to explicate where the NGO workers had influenced its shots, its directions, and its content. Although my film takes place in a village with a landmine victim, it shows rather the presentation of a off-camera Cambodian doctor, who wishes to put a good face on an NGO. The aim of the presentation is to describe the risks of working with an NGO in such a dependent way and how to best approach the ethnographer’s analysis after the film has already been edited. Parts of the film can be seen here. The film will feature freeze frames of where it has been altered (or recommended to be altered) by various NGO workers, including which people I should be filming, how I should be filming them, and when I should be filming them. Following the freeze frame will be my commentary on the actual process of negotiation occurring within the editing and shooting of the film. The presentation proposes to explain the multivocal nature ethnographic filmwork in an upfront way, examining the influence informants have on analysis for anthropology in general and visual anthropology in particular. It examines the power dynamics inherent in working with NGOs and as junior scholars attempting fieldwork. The presentation itself is an attempt to deconstruct a finished product of visual anthropology, unraveling the process of collaboration, editing, aesthetics, and fieldwork essential to the discipline.
Keywords: Anthropology, nonfiction, development, film, collaboration
Darcie DeAngelo is currently a PhD student at McGill University in visual and medical anthropology focusing on following up her research in Battambang. She obtained her Master’s of Philosophy degree in Visual Cultural Studies for the University of Tromsø, Norway. For that, she conducted fieldwork and made an ethnographic film of the Scandinavian NGO work in 2009: vimeo.com/latitutereadjustment. Her research interests include cross-cultural development issues, visual literacy, mental health research, ethnographic film and the anthropology of medicine.
Montage as Methodology
Teresa Castro, in her essay “The Mapping Impulse” (2009), shows how filmmakers and cartographers are closely related through their attempts in visualizing the world. She identifies three cartographic shapes that are present in cinema: the aerial view, the panorama, and the atlas. Through Castro’s cartographic shapes, I propose to trace some of the functions and tropes of narrative cartography and its relation to cartographic cinema. I argue that a variety of cinematic and cartographic strategies are necessary to have a deep understanding of the world and our place in it. And finally, I suggest that cartographic cinema is especially important in relating the itinerary back into the map.
The Philosophy Playground: A Method Within Method
Is philosophy too tough for children? As adults, we may cherish philosophy for its ability to nurture our curiosity about the world and our love of wisdom but rarely do we consider children capable of engaging in true philosophical thinking beyond their adorably stubborn “why?-why?-why?” questioning. And yet, the groundbreaking work of educational philosophers suggests that even at a young age, children can get in touch with the philosophical dimensions of their own lived experience by re!ecting on what puzzles, worries and enthralls them, making early exposure to philosophical experimentation not only worthwhile but necessary. is proposed interactive workshop will showcase the highly imaginative and transformative features of the Community of Inquiry (CI) methodology originally developed by Matthew Lipman, founder of the internationally recognized and UNESCO-endorsed Philosophy for Children (P4C) pedagogy. It will also highlight some of the difficulties inherent in developing an interdisciplinary methodology to analyze and extend an existing pedagogical method that is both complex and often misunderstood. As part of the workshop, participants will get to experience the CI method and assess the ways in which it can foster what Lipman called multidimensional thought—or equal parts critical-, creative- and caring-thinking—by helping children transcend the boundaries of their current perspectives through structured group dialogue. e philosophy playground enabled by CI reminds us why we love and delight in philosophizing, while underlining the challenges of transforming conceptual inquiry into a structured process.
Keywords: Philosophy for Children (P4C), community inquiry, dialogical practice, pedagogy
Natalie Fletcher is a first-year student in the Humanities PhD program, fusing research in the fields of virtue ethics, dialogical pedagogy and relational aesthetics. She is a philosophy teacher at John Abbott College and the director of Brila Youth Projects (www.brila.org), a registered charity that introduces philosophical thinking to young people through creative inquiry workshops and digital magazine production. She is on the executive committee of the Association Québécoise de Philosophie pour Enfants (AQPE) and works closely with the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC).
A year without love
The project, A Year Without Love is comprised of a set of three male portraits 24 x 24 inches, painted in oils and mixed media. It is inspired by the Argentinean author Pablo Pérez’s homonymous book. The story describes a year in the life of Pablo, a young writer with AIDS. His fear of death, the end of his relationship and his S&M experiences which motivated him to keep an intimate journal. As in the novel where a journal is used as a portrait of daily life, my proposal will focus on a vision of intimacy as an aesthetic concept in homosexuality. In this sense, intimacy is the “driving ideology” of my proposal. It represents a time when we review the paths we have tread and reorient ourselves. Intimacy is those ephemeral moments in time where we encounter the most fully realized image of our potential self to build the framework of our personality. Intimacy guides us from the person that we are to the person that we hope to become. I believe that every portrait tells a different story, with varying contexts and thoughts, but each is similar and equal in terms of intimacy. Treading the same path of “intimacy,” I will portray three different people whom I met during the past year as lovers. I will capture different moments of the subjects portrayed using their own self-portrait uploaded in social networks. In a metaphorical way I want to create a visualization of love, as well as the lack of love. In the context of the Humanities Program Conference and the exploration of research-creation methods, I will explain my own methodology for creation inspired in Bruno Munari’s Design Method. I will explain how I have used this methodology for creation as a protocol of actions to achieve a result in a work of art.
Inquiring about Risk: Interdisciplinary Methods and the Challenges of Field Research
For my doctoral research, I am investigating what it means to be a subject who is at-risk of HIV. I am particularly interested in how the epistemological notions of risk and being at-risk which operate within the field of HIV prevention research and services, compare to the actual experiences of those who are living as subjects at-risk. The particular at-risk group that I will be investigating is young gay men living in Canada. In my opinion, in order to best capture what it means to be a person who is at-risk of HIV, one must ask those who are at-risk what this means to them. While a significant majority of social-cultural work and biomedical research on HIV is interested in investigating the nuances of sexual behaviour, seldom do we ask those who are at-risk to share their understandings of what it means to belong to a risk group or how they negotiate or configure being at risk with the rest of their lives. Thus for this presentation, I will discuss how I intend to gather such data from my upcoming field research, which will be based on feminist ethnographic methods and interdisciplinary investigations into the fields of health, sexuality and HIV prevention. I will focus on how interdisciplinarity helps to foster creative intellectual projects, but how it also poses unique challenges for those doing field research.
Mark Gaspar is a Humanities PhD student at Concordia’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture. His work examines HIV risk and safer sex from various critical perspectives. His main fields of analysis include sexual health, sociology and communications. Gaspar holds an MA in Social and Political Thought at York University.
Internet Use and Agency: Conceptualizing a Qualitative Turn in Internet Studies
Abstract: In the relatively short history of Internet studies, so far, quantitative approaches have dominated the field (Garcia et al. (2009). This paper argues that a qualitative turn is indispensable, particularly, in the exploration of the relationship between Internet use and well-being. Since the existing scholarship has largely relied on statistical methods, this topic has been polarized by the debates between the “Internet optimists” and “Internet pessimists”. Consequently, I argue that this is the major reason why these studies fail to account for how people’s agency creates different “situated” effects of Internet use on personal well-being. A qualitative turn in this area of sociological inquiry will allow Internet studies to move beyond the “optimists vs. pessimists” debate and instead focus on the “situated” effects of Internet use. Finally, drawing inspiration from ethnomethodological scholarship, I formulate and discuss some of the key elements of a qualitative approach to this topic.
Key words: Internet use, qualitative methods, mixed methods, ethnomethodology
I am a PhD student in Sociology at McGill University currently researching how personal Internet use at work is shaped by the socioeconomic and technological contexts in which we live. Focusing on workers’ subjective understanding of their Internet use, I use a mixed-methods approach to explore a range of interconnected questions: from how differences in age, occupational status, and income affect how workers perceive and engage in personal use of the Internet at work to how employees combine personal and work-related online routines. My research interests include: sociology of work & occupations, sociology of media, Internet use, gender, ethnicity, stratification, well-being, digital media at work, mixed methods research
Special Interests: Some notes on Autism as a methodological strategy
Feminist, critical race and queer hermeneutics have recast the idea of objectivity in humanities. They often allow for personal discourses to emerge from this call towards the objective, and at the same time question if the objective is even possible. While admirable, this does not suggest a radical change in the problems of methodology. Often they are an inclusion rather than a re-casting or a restructuring. The emerging field of disability studies, which borrows from previous identity constructions, and their hermeneutics, might provide a way of recasting how methodologies are constructed. Thinking, especially about the differences in how those on the Autism spectrum process information, and how those methods work at an oblique angle to the expectations of narratives that continue to dominate academies, might provide a way forward from discussing the difficulties of the objective. Instead of the formal essay, with one argument and a singular narrative–what happens if (like autistics) we negotiate information into the database, the taxonomic list, or the info dump. What happens if we treat the autobiography expected of queer, or feminist discourses not through the lens of 19th century claims of objectivity, or their discontents, but through current problems of processing data? Using autobiography, biography, current discourse from disability studies, and from information systems, and experimental attempts at data management–I hope to work through why the essay continues its stranglehold on academia, and by wrestling out of it, provide examples of other formal systems.
Key Words: Autism, Queerness, Formalism, The Essay, Rhetoric.
Anthony Easton is a writer, theologian and visual artist. His criticism has been published in the Atlantic Online, Burnside Writers Collective, Geez, and Stylus. His academic work has been published in the volume Queer and Catholic by Routledge and in presentations in conferences popular culture, education, and disability studies. He has work in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
Blocs of Practice-Theory: Building Anti-Archist Methods for Anarchist Projects
Overall, my research is focused on the quest(ion)s of anarchic democratic power – the questions about how to understand power in anarchic democracy, and the quests to discover how we can better empower anarchic democracy. A central tenet of my methodology for these quest(ion)s is that there is no ‘One True’ theory of power, nor any ‘One Proper’ practice of anarchic democracy. Rather, every specific form of social organization will produce its own forms of power, and can only be analyzed by related forms of theory to which they are connected. Schematically framed, this means that I should not resolve the question of whether Theory or Practice is properly the ‘cause’ of the other, but must instead engage with a method whereby a specific Practice is made to interact with a specific Theory so that together they produce what Deleuze and Guattari have called a ‘bloc’ – that is, a meeting place where the elements are charged and changed by their mutual influence (1). How to avoid a method of the ‘one-way street’ (in one direction, the application of Practice to Theory, or in the other direction the application of Theory to Practice), and to proceed instead by a method that makes allies of Practice and Theory? For my presentation, I will show how I have answered this question by structuring my dissertation research project according to ‘Blocs of Practice-Theory’. I will also address why this question is particularly important for designing fundamentally ‘anarchic methodologies’ – which must demolish any method based on the centralization of conceptual power, where either Theory or Practice might ascend to the throne, and create instead a toolbox full of methods that enable Theory and Practice to act together as a bloc, working side by side as comrades.
1. “Becoming is always double, that which one becomes becomes no less than the one that becomes – bloc is formed, essentially mobile, never in equilibrium. […] [T]he two terms of a becoming do not exchange places, there is no identification between them, they are instead drawn into an asymmetrical bloc in which both change to some extent, and which constitutes their zone of proximity.” (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. 305-306. Translation modified to restore the original French word, ‘bloc’.)
Keywords: Practice/Theory, Deleuze & Guattari, Anarchist, Power…
Matthew Hayter: I am currently working on my PhD. dissertation in Social and Political Thought at York University – where I study theories of power and democracy, the Continental European philosophic tradition, and histories of modern social movements – all funnelled into quest(ion)s about how to better empower the organization of revolutionary, collective, and anti-archical groups and relationships. My dissertation project is focused on analyzing documents that deal explicitly with the decision-making practices of North American anarchist organizations – where my main purpose is to better inform and empower these endeavours by connecting them to a range of ideas about of power.
Gonzo Methodology, or A How Not to Guide on Posthuman Knowledge Production
This paper explores the pitfalls in trying to produce work on postmodern theory and its posthuman subject matter from the traditional site or trope of the dissertation writing process: in isolation and monkish solitude. It questions why I would pick one of the few remaining places on earth which is not telematic/telepresent to write about screenal interfaces and biochip- and biochem- Deleuzian bodies and undertakes to re-situate the site of academic production on pontinental theory to its proper place: The Trump Plaza Hotel in Chicago, or from ‘inside’ the image/simulacrum of ‘The Donald.’ I argue that with respect to posthuman academic practice we need to rethink our approach to field research and the reasons we cling to a form – the Grand Tour – which has seen its time pass with the fall of the class that it was intended to educate: the aristocrat. When daily lived reality is so heavily dependent and intertwined with digitality, our research methods and sites and ways of study must keep pace. Like Hunter S. Thompson writing his obituary piece for his twin star Richard Nixon, not from the funeral procession, although he could have been there, but from 24 hour a day coverage of the event, being ‘gonzo’ as Thompson’s style was described – to be with the lived experience – means immersing ourselves in the screenal, the televisual, and the simulacra of the event to be at today’s real event site (which is no longer the material one) of an action. This is seen in the transition in Thompson’s work from being present and at the material site as he was with Hell’s Angels to his tele-present later work in Rolling Stone. I argue that a reflexive approach to digitality as a medium, an all pervasive message and massage, that is where and how we need to be conducting research.
Graham Potts’ research interests include postmodern, continental and queer theory, critical digital studies (with a focus on social networking technologies), popular culture studies, and communications studies. He is a PhD Candidate in Social and Political Thought at York University in Toronto. His dissertation is titled “Posthumanism Punk’d: A Metaphysics of Facebook, Ashton Kutcher, The Donald and Lady Gaga.” He has a BA from the University of Western Ontario in Social and Political Thought and an MA from the University of Toronto in Political Science.
Alanis Obomsawin’s Mother of Many Children (1977) : How does the Cinema of Sovereignty affect Us? Film Screening and Discussion
I would like to propose a film screening and discussion group for the student conference. This presses against the standard method of conference round tables and the presentation of papers and works in progress. It also goes beyond the studio/research-creation imperative of showing an artistic process restricted to the student or scholar as singular author. The film is only peripherally related to my doctoral research, and requires the participation of conference attendees beyond the standard mode of active listening. Perhaps this is a utopian proposition, as it puts faith in the form of the student conference as a forum for intellectual curiosity – a willingness to engage in reading and informed discussion without purpose other than the exchange of ideas and affective experience. The floating conference room is a metaphor for the suspended space of disinterested contemplation. When the screening and discussion end, there is no career advancement, no chapter for a thesis, no direct political action.
I propose to screen “Mother of Many Children” a 1977 documentary by Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki). In short, it chronicles the experience of Native women through their own voices, in Obomsawin’s words: “women at home, who survive, who take care of children–people that you don’t really know.” As a challenge to media representation of aboriginal peoples (or lack thereof) Obomsawin’s style as a filmmaker combines Griersonian techniques of social realism with traditional oral storytelling. This intersection of forms inscribes suppressed voices into Canadian history through the state apparatus of the National Film Board. Randolph Lewis, in his recent scholarly biography of the filmmaker, argues her body of work is a “powerful media strategy that she has developed to support First Nations sovereignty.” In the present climate of the Idle No More movement, which argues for nation to nation negotiation between the Crown (as an historical form of the Canadian government) and First Peoples as sovereign nations, what can we learn from Obomsawin’s early work regarding subjectivity, oppression, autonomy and the influence of non-textual narrative forms upon the political imaginary? Prior to the screening, the chapter on “Cinema of Sovereignty” from Lewis’ book, Alanis Obomsawin: The Vision of a Native Filmmaker (2006) will be distributed to conference attendees as a common reference for the discussion period.
Healing the body, healing the soul: knowledge mobilization in Aboriginal research
While providing a significant body of analysis of aboriginal experience with resource development, the contemporary history of aboriginal people as told by academics rarely allows individual voices to be heard because it tends to “draw on oral tradition selectively” and “adjust the imaginary of ‘original ecology’ to fit contemporary environmental concerns” (1). For the Quebec James Bay Cree, public hearings conducted during Environmental Impact Assessment constitute the most common setting where they discuss their experience with environmental change. Unfortunately, cultural and spiritual impacts of such development cause deep emotional and social stress that is rarely acknowledged by western derived mitigation measures. But, the stories people tell about themselves reveal the complexity of social interactions, the “tension between official ideological forms and locally focused, culturally constructed forms of self-representation” (2) and have the potential to (re)contextualize contemporary aboriginal history. My research therefore explores the cultural and social meaning of healing embedded in the life stories of Cree individuals in an era of accelerated resource development in their territory. My presentation focuses on the potential of oral history and life story interviewing to unveil not the events that took place but their meaning for those that have experienced them. Couched in this methodology, concepts such as knowledge mobilization and sharing authority will propose alternative ways to thinking and doing academic research.
(1) Cruikshank, Julie. The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000: xv. 2
(2) James, Daniel. Dona Maria’s Story: Life, Memory, and Political Identity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000: 222
Ioana Radu: I am a 4th year Humanities PhD student at CISSC. My research seeks to contribute to the debate about the nature of contemporary aboriginal youth cultural (re)appropriations, territorial relational dynamics, and empowerment. The approach centers on the concept of healing as a means through which they negotiate identity and strengthen agency by undertaking an ethnographic study of a healing program in the community. Healing as a concept and as a practice will help me ‘unpack’ connections between autonomy and wellbeing in aboriginal communities by challenging essentialized notions of cultural change; by underlining the relations between self, family and community; and by exploring how extra-local political processes operate in daily life. (110 words)
Ivet Reyes Maturano
On food, memory, and collaboration: experiences from the second Gastronomic Festival of Yalálag, Oaxaca
Rapid economic changes in indigenous towns with high levels of emigration and remittances have contributed to dramatic changes in food production and diet. Such is the case of Yalálag, a Zapotec town in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, Mexico where I conducted fieldwork in 2011, for my PhD research. My presentation will share the experience of a participatory and multidisciplinary project we developed in Yalálag, which became a place for reflection on diet change, and the recovery of traditional dishes with locally sourced ingredients. This project encompassed different stages including surveys, workshops, interviews, a gastronomic festival, and the production of a recipe book. The work was a collaboration between myself and the local health clinic, and involved the participation of women and youth, as well as local authorities, and some teachers of the primary school. This collaboration emerged out of a common interest in reflecting about the drastic changes in diet over the past three decades.
Keywords: participation, diet change, memory, emigration
Ivet Reyes Maturano is a PhD candidate in anthropology at McGill University. She is interested in the issues of political ecology, migration, and engaging art as a means to build new cross-border communities. Born in Mexico City, Ivet got her BA in Anthropology at the National School of Anthropology and History in Mexico City, and received her MA in Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. Ivet has also collaborated in several artistic projects. Currently she is a visiting scholar at Trent University, where she continues writing her PhD dissertation.
Refiguring Childhood in South Africa: An experiment in collaborative, participatory exhibit production
Refiguring Childhood is the working title of an experimental, collaborative, and participatory public history exhibition I am developing based on a hybrid methodology that draws from but expands upon cultural anthropology, oral history, and museum studies approaches. Inviting engagement with historical materials about and by children from the apartheid period in South Africa, my exhibit will engage public participants in co-creation and dialogue in the impoverished Cape Flats township of Khayelitsha, by asking them to consider their present-day circumstances and the meanings of childhood through intergenerational dialogue and collaborative curation. Museums and monuments in South Africa traditionally celebrated apartheid and its beneficiaries, while demonizing, belittling, or simply ignoring the black majority population. Post-independence, initial attempts to democratize such sites focused on correcting one-sided, often overtly racist representations to insert the experiences of South Africa’s black population into the historical record and commemorative landscape. The extreme socioeconomic realities of contemporary South Africa demand multiple, overlapping interventions, not isolated or temporary solutions. My methodology extends the democratization project beyond a focus on the content of what is produced as public history to democratizing the process of exhibit and public history production itself. Allowing subjects to “speak back” and also to actively negotiate what representations are produced counters the entrenched tradition of “monovocal” representation found in dominant historical narratives including museum exhibits, official histories, and memorials. My key research question is: Can an exhibition create opportunities for former and current South African children, and academic researchers, to better understand and address the country’s current violence and inequality as embedded in enduring patterns of discrimination and suffering? Refiguring Childhood seeks to create a more dynamic, democratic, and participatory space of encounter and emergence. This work is civically-engaged, pedagogically-oriented, participatory, and collaborative, enlarging the domain of knowledge production to incorporate rarely-heard voices into academic research and scholarship.
Monica Eileen Patterson received her Ph.D. in Anthropology and History from the University of Michigan, and is currently a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence (CEREV) in the Department of History at Concordia University. Monica is particularly interested in the intersections of memory, childhood, and violence in postcolonial Africa, and the ways in which they are represented and engaged in contemporary public spheres. At CEREV, she is pursuing two projects based on her field and archival research in southern Africa: a monograph examining contested constructions of childhood in late apartheid South Africa; and an experimental exhibit that allows former and current South African children to reflect on their experiences of childhood and explore the meanings of the apartheid past and its present-day legacies. She is coeditor and contributing author of Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places (Palgrave, 2011) and Anthrohistory: Unsettling Knowledge, Questioning Discipline (University of Michigan Press, 2011).
Byzantine symphony / I tawt I taw a monster
While living the life of a monk and Byzantine iconographer in a Romanian Orthodox monastery, I have acquired the skills of the traditional method of icon painting, which constructs a sacred narrative that represents the world not entirely imaginary and not totally naturalistic. In the monastery, I learned how the image works in sacred rituals and experienced the interesting situation of seeing people worshiping the icons I have painted. The drawings that I make derive from a religious war on image, in which ‘image haters’ believed that all forms of artistic representations, as they come out of the artist’s mind/imagination, are illusions that ‘poison’ the viewer’s body and mind. Human-made images have always been mistrusted for their power to indulge the viewer in worshiping his/her own desires or ideas of ‘truth’/‘god’—much like the way today’s technologically manipulated images dominate our desires, imagination, and perceptions of reality to the point of violating our body. As an image maker, I believe that ‘image haters’ bring more violence to our body by denying or devaluating the natural relation we have to image, which manifests at our deepest physical and mental level. On the other hand, I became aware of the power of image to harm our body when it induces strong desires (from material to symbolic/conceptual desires) that we follow to their fullness such as in buying, eating, and drinking. In following the Byzantine style of making images, I create hand-made drawings that comment on the relationship between body and desire and the violence that comes out of it. I see my drawings as visual tools in contemplating on our relationship with images in contemporary society.
Transdisciplinary art research: multi-modal methods in Paul Klee’s painting, writing, and pedagogy.
In Studio Arts, especially in the Commonwealth, there is a movement to institute PhD’s for artists who wish to go on in the Academy past the Master’s, which has been, until now, the terminal degree. What would constitute advanced work-its methods, theories, writings, etc.-is a question that speaks directly to this conference. There is, also, concurrently, a discussion in art education, studio art, and art history, about whether and how artmaking can be used as research and for research, and how theory and text should be involved in this process.
In my Master’s thesis, Paul Klee’s Color Pedagogy at the Bauhaus, 1920-1931, I present a model for how an artist can integrate distinct methods and techniques in art pedagogy. Paul Klee, working in a time of tremendous knowledge-creation during the birth of the Modernist project, successfully combined theory, research, teaching, and artmaking. Resonating with the present day’s interest in how art can be both the subject and method of research, Klee’s work was comprised of extensive written and diagramed theoretical formulations, of paintings that he used to both explore his ideas and to illustrate them for his students; and of lectures that were performative in their presentation and theoretical/metaphorical in their content. Klee’s work while at the Bauhaus suggests a direction for the production of new knowledge in a manner that utilizes theory in studio art without constraining artmaking’s effective intuitive methodology. Using Klee’s diagrams, writings, and paintings, I will perform a lecture on color that parallels how Klee himself integrated varied methods into his teaching. I will use writing and diagrams on a board, as well as actual paintings to illustrate the connection between art, teaching, theory, and text.
A Marxian Analysis of Immaterial Art
With my PhD research/creation project I explore the relation between art, language and materiality in the contemporary contexts of globalization and information networks. Rather than observe, in a McLuhanian way, how the associated communication technologies have shaped the content of art (the medium is the message), I aim instead to examine, under a Marxian analytical method, the material conditions that have led to such a paradigm (the economy is the message). My initial exercise consists in outlining the elemental components of Marxian analytics, between base structure and super-structure, which respectively hold the economic and cultural attributes of a given society. I proceed to introduce this framework by analyzing tribal societies and how these economies, based on hunting for example, correlate to their culture. More complex economies are then provided, such as agricultural and early capitalist, to segue to today’s post-industrial service industries. Also described as Immaterial Labor by Michael Hardt and Maurizio Lazaretto, this economy paved the way for art movements to also eschew physical objects. Immaterial art finds its first incarnation in Conceptual Art, Fluxus and many more contemporary productions, to offer uncanny correlations to late capitalist modes of production, dominated by finance, insurance and other business sectors that offer no physical goods in exchange of their transactions. Both immaterial art and labor generated new demands for non-physical media, which so far has been best supplied by computers and other digital means. Ultimately I question the impact of immaterial labor on the production of late 20th and early 21st century art, as well as on my own personal work. I emphasize that the immaterial model changes the work of art in regards to archival, reproduction and mobility issues, while drawing it closer to other non-physical processes like stock market transactions, and this way forewarns of the immaterial art market’s potential for unbridled speculation. Contemporary art is also this way drawing closer to other non-physical cultural commodities such as digital music, literature and cinema, which raises another central Marxian topic: Intellectual property.
The Things of Order, A HUMA Core Roundtable
Shaun Gamboa, Trevor Mowchun, Julio Valdes
The HumaCore research/reading group would like to take the opportunity at this year’s conference to discuss issues of methodology as they pertain to the question of interdisciplinarity. Our point of departure has been the complexity and obscurity of interdisciplinary methodology as a historical phenomenon and scholarly practice. Though our work is still in the early going, we are currently in the midst of investigating the nature of interdisciplinarity from a variety of perspectives. By the end of the semester we hope to be in a position to offer at least some tentatively conclusive and constructive claims on the phenomenon of interdisciplinarity in the context of the Humanities for the conference on methodology.
Our working title, “The Things of Order,” while partly a reference to Michel Foucault’s ground-breaking interdisciplinary ventures in The Order of Things, is above all an acknowledgment of the material as opposed to the conceptual basis of methodology. The act of combining disciplines, of looking beyond a discipline, or perhaps of forming a new discipline altogether, regardless of intent, entail a form of questioning that is not achieved critically unless it is practiced methodologically – and often in necessarily “undisciplined” ways. The practice, however one cares to define it, can be said in general to use established orders of knowledge as raw material for an intellectual or artistic reconfiguration that is given the name interdisciplinary.
This roundtable discussion – moderated by Shaun Gamboa, Trevor Mowchun and Julio Valdes – will begin with a brief narration or recounting of the trajectory of the investigations of HumaCore throughout the winter semester. With the help of some discussion questions, perhaps formulated in response to the events of the conference, it will then be followed by an open dialogue with the aim of engaging participants on the theme of interdisciplinary methodology. It is our hope that individual research methods will inform the discussion and, in turn, be informed by the broader perspective of interdisciplinarity.
OR NOT: a performance workshop
Participants will meet at the Dance Studio 265 (on the 7th Floor of the MB building) where they will try to devise something out of nothing. Engaging with a format of performance-workshop, the idea is to investigate some possibilities of performative procedures for questioning and re-imagining modes of practices. No experience in performance or movement needed. Come ready for fun and imaginative solutions in action!
Note: No shoes allowed inside the Dance Studios.
What counts as knowledge? The misadventures of methodology
In this paper I argue that interdisciplinary research methods, while enmeshed in a shifting discourse and open to multiple readings, operate in a mode of ‘partiality’. Premised on the idea that interdisciplinarity intervenes at the borders of singular disciplines, I examine how methodologies for operating in the interdisciplinary sphere exist in the ‘not yet’; emerging from the multiple contingencies performed and engaged within our sites of research. In this paper I explore methods of collaboration, a social process constituted by variable states of reception and transformation, or what I call “ecologies of engagement,” to redress issues of inclusivity, representation and the politics of knowing.
Ardath Whynacht & Margaret Westby
Making a mess: performance, agency and mutualism in feminist collaborative artistic process
A dance, a mangle, an entanglement… What is collaboration, if not the dynamic intertwining of agencies? The following paper explores notions of agency and mutualism through creative collaborative relationships with humans and non-human actors. Discussion will draw upon the work of critical theorists such as Andrew Pickering and Karen Barad, as well as the authors’ own experiences as collaborative interdisciplinary artists. Pickering discusses material agency through the metaphor of ‘the mangle’ that describes scientific practice as an “evolving field of human and material agencies reciprocally engaged in the play of resistance and accommodation” (1993: 567). Karen Barad’s work on agential realism allows us to rethink the binary division between bodies and apparatuses. Agency is “cut loose from its traditional humanist orbit” as an “ongoing reconfiguring of both the real and the possible” (2007: 177). Agency is an ‘act’, a performance “through the dynamics of intra-activity”, not an attribute that “someone or something has” (ibid.: 178). In effect, agency signifies an active process “entailed in reconfiguring material-discursive apparatuses of bodily production” (ibid.: 178). We will explore the affective and material processes of mess-making, trust-building and negotiation of space within a transdisciplinary research and performance creation. Employing a form of experimental writing as a dialogue between multiple actors and agents, the paper will be presented in a dialogical format.