Entanglement in the World’s Becoming and the Doing of New Materialist Inquiry
Honourable Mention, ICQI 2022 Outstanding Qualitative Book Award
Entanglement in the World’s Becoming and the Doing of New Materialist Inquiry explores new materialist concepts and the ways in which they provoke an opening up of thought about being human, and about being more-than-human. The more-than-human refers, here, to the world that we are of – a world that includes humans, who are emergent and permeable, and all of the animal and earth others they intra-act with. It explores how we affect those others and are affected.
This book engages intimately in encounters of various kinds, some drawn from the author’s everyday life, some from the research projects she has engaged in over several decades, and some from others’ research. It works at the interface of living- and writing-as-inquiry, delving into the rich seam of conceptual possibilities opened up by Deleuze and Guattari, and Barad, and by new materialist inquiry more broadly. It brings not just words to the task, but also art, photopraphs, movement, memories, bodies, sound, touch, things.
It delves into the ways in which the entangled dynamics of social, material and semiotic flows and forces make up the diffractive movements through which life emerges, assembles itself, and endures. New materialist concepts, as they are explored here, offer new and emergent approaches to life itself, and to ways in which we might research our lives as they are intricately enfolded in the life of the earth.
Table of Contents
1. Delving into New Materialism 2. Vital Materiality 3. Finding and Fostering the Conditions of Creative Production 4. Thing-Power 5. Collective Biography: A Diffractive Methodology 6. Three Components of the Refrain 7. Recognition 8. Intuition and the Flow In Between One and Another 9. Ethico-onto-epistemology: Inventing New Possibilities of Life
Bronwyn Davies is an independent scholar, with honorary professorships at the universities of Melbourne and Western Sydney. She left academe in protest ten years ago at the growing stranglehold of neoliberalism on academic work. She has written her best work since then and enjoyed several wonderful academic collaborations. See bronwyndavies.com.au for details.
'Bold, new/old terms, diffraction, new materialist thought, entangled assemblages, interconnected becomings, and more, a brilliant articulation, poetic, autobiographical, lyrical, standing on the shoulders of Barad and Deleuze & Guattari, Bronwyn’s new book leads us into the next decade, BRILLIANT.' -- Norman K. Denzin, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign
'In Entanglement in the World’s Becoming and the Doing of New Materialist Inquiry Bronwyn Davies has written an unputdownable page-turner. It is a rare and exciting scholarly text that draws readers in. This is a clear, beautifully written book that deserves more than one reading. The writing is powerful, vulnerable and absorbing. This work is written with the generosity and sympathy that it offers and advocates. It is a book that deserves, and evokes, our attention and response-ability.' Jane Speedy, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Bristol.
'Entanglement in the World’s Becoming and the Doing of New Materialist Inquiry is a lucid, engrossing and energising, deep dive into the possibilities and challenges facing qualitative researchers in these times. Bronwyn Davies takes us through the implications of theory into a series of experimental forays into life itself, where the researcher is implicated at every turn. This is a turn to ‘ambulatory’ methods and modes of thought: expansive, creative, unsettling and thrilling. She develops new areas of inquiry and revisits classic work on gender, subjectivity, children, schooling, academic life, intimacy, abjection, recognition, the body in place by entering into potent and often poignant moments of being and becoming. Anyone who has ever read and loved her work will be stunned again by the freshness of her thinking, rigorous and clear-eyed theoretical engagement, and courageous recasting of what it might be to be a researcher entangling with the world.' -- Susanne Gannon, Associate Professor of Education, Western Sydney University
'Once again, Bronwyn Davies has written a tantalising guide to the possibilities of research that entangle new materialist philosophy with post-qualitative research, autoethnography and collective biography, though this time the project is further enhanced by its engagement with the visual arts and literature. Each central chapter provides a different exemplar that works through entanglements that draw on aspects of family history, gendered violence, the position of children in the world, indigenous recognition and/or vibrant life beyond narrow definitions of the human. Each exemplar could stand alone as an inspiring guide for researchers seeking new approaches, but again Davies takes this further with final reflections on the pressing implications for life entangled within a global pandemic. At times intensely personal, the complex yet beautifully written texts go beyond the specificities of individual experience to give space for the re-vitalising insights that new materialist analyses can offer, while also raising questions about ethical "response-abilities" that call to us now from the present and the past.' -- Lise Claiborne, Adjunct Professor of Education, University of Waikato, New Zealand
'Bronwyn Davies has an extraordinary talent for doing justice to theoretical complexity while at the same time bringing that complexity accessibly to life. The reader can’t help but learn. The reader can’t help but be affected. Those of us seeking to draw upon the new materialisms in our research and writing are deeply in her debt.' -- Jonathan Wyatt, Professor of Qualitative Inquiry, The University of Edinburgh, UK
'When beginning my journey into ‘thinking differently’ and post-structuralism, I wondered why the language needed to be so difficult to understand and ‘translate’. Bronwyn told me it was so that we did not slip into ‘thinking as usual’. This book is certainly not thinking as usual when delving into new materialism. It takes us on a journey of moving beyond the already known, and calls us as researchers to find joy in being open to the not-yet-known. This is a world away from the current expectations most researchers experience in universities.
Bronwyn states that to do new materialist research is to find very different research questions that do not envisage humanity’s existence as independent of, and separate from, the nonhuman or more-than-human world. This book takes us on a journey of being open to different research methodology – including diffractive methodology, transcendental empiricism, and collective biography. Each chapter talks us through how these might be done, then shows us these in action. At the end, and throughout, in each chapter, new materialist research is undertaken on the everyday – in the park, a pond, friendship, children, spaces, places, art, death, at home, swimming, on a train, under a tree.
Throughout the book Bronwyn explores the conception of new materialist ethics. “In place of the institutional ethics that tie down the research event to controlled and predictable practices and outcomes, new materialist ethics, in its unpredictability, never lets the researcher off the hook of considering how their emergent thoughts and actions matter”. There is freedom and responsibilities of seeing ethics in this way.
The book speaks to me about research possibilities and while each chapter grows from another, the chapters The Three Components of the Refrain and Recognition I found the most exciting. New possibilities – lines of flight – are opened to me. I have no doubt each researcher will find the possibilities that open for them.' -- Dr Cath Laws, Australian Catholic University, Australia
'This book demonstrates how new materialist concepts can be applied not only to research, but to relationship and workplace problems. Bronwyn shows how new concepts can help us arrive at very different conclusions about ourselves, others, and life, when we find ourselves in seemingly hopeless and frustrating situations. This book is very relevant for teachers and counsellors working in schools.' -- Maria Kecskemeti PhD, Teacher and Counsellor, Wellington, New Zealand