To see the paper I gave at QI 2010, click here.
It can be a mistake to go back…Last year I attended the Fifth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (QI 2009) at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and was refreshed, energised and motivated by the genuine inclusivity of the conference and the engagement with issues of social justice on a practical rather than exclusively theoretical level, as well as by the friendships I made there. The accessibility of iconic figures such as Norman Denzin, Ken Gergen and Carolyn Ellis was thrilling, and their active interest in the work of others, regardless of their status (or lack thereof!) was genuinely inspiring. Inclusivity is not just a concept at QI, but a lived experience…
This year then, when my paper for QI 2010 was accepted, I was delighted but also a little concerned that the reality of this congress couldn’t possibly live up to my memories of the last. So it was immediately reassuring upon arrival to find myself sharing a taxi with Laurel Richardson and to see ‘Norm’ in his trademark shorts and sandals in the Registration Hall, welcoming new faces and chatting with old hands. Friendships made last year were renewed, the circle of familiar faces rapidly expanded and I was once again on first name terms with individuals whose work has had a profound influence on my own (both shaping and troubling it), and made me feel like this was a community to which it was worth belonging. Apart from offering a wide range of international and interdisciplinary papers, and the usual galaxy of ’super’ scholars, the congress created the space to engage meaningfully with everybody from nursing practitioners to critical race theorists, autoethnographers to postcolonial scholars and to find resonances with their work, sharing ideas, references and even discover opportunities for future collaboration.
It was (and is) an honour to hear individuals like Patti Lather, Yvonna Lincoln and Harry Wolcott speak, if so mild a term can be used for such rousing rhetoric! There was however, very much the sense in some of the plenary sessions that the old guard was making preparations to pass on the torch and the responsibility for socially responsible and activist scholarship to us young middle-aged turks, at a time when the need for creative and critical responses to the challenges that face us has never been greater. I hope that in some small way my own emancipatory research will contribute to keeping that flame alive.
Participating in QI 2010 left me feeling engaged and enthused, excited anew by the potential to make a meaningful contribution to scholarship and social justice, and wanting to take on additional responsibilities at QI 2011!