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Phenomenology as Practice: Variations, voices and practical implications for “doing” phenomenology

We want to invite you to join our next seminar on Friday 12th of March. Professor Susan Kozel from Malmö University will give a presentation titled 'Phenomenology as Practice: Variations, voices and practical implications for “doing” phenomenology'.

Time: Fri 2021-03-12 13.00

Location: Online

Participating: Susan Kozel, Malmö University

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Methodological constraints are felt by researchers in all stages of their careers, in simple as well as complex investigations. In one of those rare but valuable moments of spontaneous discussion occurring amongst presenters at a conference, several young academics let down their guard and permitted their concerns to emerge. It was as if the disciplinary police (or the academic superego) had not yet awoken on this final Sunday morning of the transmediale media art conference in Berlin. One presenter revealed the affective nuance that emerged from his careful and empathic ethnographic processes, yet, when asked to distinguish between the affective states demonstrated by his interviewees, he faltered. He was aware that a potent affective range was evident in his study -- fatigue, powerlessness, boredom, apathy, frustration, depression-- and he knew that these distinctions needed to be refined but he could not find a way to account for such fine-grained qualitative description within his methodology. It was clear that he felt he was not permitted to let ambiguity, speculation, or, even worse, his own subjectivity enter his research processes. To do so was to risk the legitimacy of his whole project. In his words, he and others faced “a significant methodological challenge” in order to conduct the research that most mattered to them. Nevertheless, he was drawn to inquire into the sort of real world phenomena that effectively broke his methodological and conceptual structures. He was at a loss. He is certainly not alone in his headlong collision with the conditions for legitimacy of his chosen field. This happens to many of us, in any number of academic disciplines and artistic fields. It might place us in a situation of having to plan an “escape route from academia” – words I overheard from another media artist at that same conference. We might choose to transform scholarship from outside but close to academic institutions, as is done so powerfully by Sara Ahmed in recent years (Ahmed 2017, 2019). Or, we might decide to develop our ideas and practices from within, by the pragmatic means of “limitations, adaptations and inversions” as proposed by A.N. Whitehead in his deep reflections on process at the heart of reality (Whitehead in Sherburne 196).