Papers accepted for QI 2016

Abstracts recently accepted for The Twelfth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (hosted by University of Illinois, USA, 18th-21st May, 2016):

  • Halldorsdottir, T. (2016, May). Warring wor(l)ds: stories as soft weapons and resources of hope.
  • Fay, R., Andrews, J., Frimberger, K. and Tordzro, G. (2016, May). Creative interthinking: interthinking creatively.
  • Huang, Z. (2016, May). Through the eye of visual-creative-arts: exploring intercultural personhood.



  • Zhuomin Huang

    I have been inspired by the QI experience, especially in relation to my current work on data analysis. First, I learnt to not make ‘otherisation’ of research– it means I learnt to recognise not only the uniqueness, but also the shared nature of diverse research genres. I realise that ‘creative-arts’ should not be used as an excuse, or be grown into a genre in which research might be done as less rigour, coherent, or systematic. When researchers fight for the unique power and position of creative-arts in research, we need to firstly work on producing an excellent quality of arts-based research.

    Secondly, I learnt to not confuse a word which has particular meanings in academic research. For example, I thought that, with the space enabled by creative-arts, my participants were invited to analyse their ‘self’, experiences and their creation of the visuals. So as the visuals are my data, I thought that my participants were also empowered as ‘co-researchers’ to be involved in the data analysis process. However, Richard reminded me that the word ‘analysis’ or ‘researcher’ have special implications in academic research, which is different from their meanings and positions in the daily life language. My participants could give comment, explain or explore their visuals, but it’s me who can and who will be assessed for doing ‘data-analysis’ in my PhD thesis. I, as the researcher, conduct and make decisions of my study which are all governed by certain academic criteria, while my participants’ ‘analysis’ or ‘research’ are not governed by the same kind of criteria. Thus, in order to be clear, it might be better to described them and their activities with different words such as ‘co-explorer’, ‘meaning-making’ or ‘commentary’.

    I have also got inspirations about using creative-arts in and for data analysis. I thought about to recreate my research data and/or findings into a new visual (e.g. painting) by integrating the important insights embedded in my visual data. However, if I do so, it requires me to be able to create a painting that is not merely aesthetic and imaginatively meaningful to myself, but more importantly sustains sufficient rigor and clarity for the readers and/or examiners of my PhD thesis. So is it really a purposeful choice to use visuals to represent my findings when the priority is clarity – or if it’s just mindless impulse of ‘doing something creative’? So I have considered another possibility – I will (re)create a visual enable me to interrogate my interpretation of the data. This visual will be generated in and as a part of my data-analysis. It will serve to stimulate alternative possibilities of my understandings. The visual will be created by me and also be interpreted and used and by me. My aim with it is not to offer a clear representation of the result of my data analysis, but to entangle with alternative modes of thinking in order to better understand my data.

    I will continue exploring these possibilities as my data analysis goes on.

    • Susan Dawson

      Thank you Min and Richard for these very insightful and interesting comments. It certainly sounds as if it has given you both much food for thought. Min, your comments inspired me to write a paragraph in my concluding chapter :), and Richard, I was wondering if you could give us a 1 sentence summary of what the new materialist thinking is? Also, what do you mean by fluency around QI thinking – fluency in what way? Sorry about the questions, but I think they are interesting and (possibly) important ones 🙂

      • Richard Fay

        Hi Susan
        A 1-sentence summary of new materialism? Hmmmmm.

        Here is one summary I have found online:

        Short Summary —

        “New Materialism is a category of theories that were generated as a response to the linguistic turn. Infused with commitments to specific knowledge-becoming practices and a history linked to feminisms, new materialism attempts to offer a different perspective to signification, materiality, and methodologies of crafting knowledge.

        Knowledge-becoming practices refers to the way that new materialists think about things in the world and what we know about them. Historically, with theories attached to Enlightenment, ontology (what is in the world) and epistemology (what we know about what is in the world) were considered to be separate and not affecting one another. What new materialists point out is that what is in the world and what we know about things in the world cannot be considered as different things. What is in the world and what we know about things in the world are constantly shaping one another. While poststructuralists explain that words are fluid (focusing on language), new materialists point out that materiality too is not stable.”

        For me, the key phrase is” ‘What new materialists point out is that what is in the world and what we know about things in the world cannot be considered as different things.” And in our discussions in QI, we were very much focused on challenging language-based ways of formulating what we know about things in the world and instead inviting a broader range of ways of knowing to be attended to (eg arts-based ways of knowing). In practice, this might mean re-entangling language about the world with the materiality of the the world …..

        Not very clear (I’m sorry) but I’m taking tiny steps here into a new area.

        Secondly, you ask me about “fluency around QI thinking”. In the QI tent, there is a great deal of fluency evident in the discussions about e.g. new materialism and, say, the work of Karen Barad. Not only I am not fluent in such theorising streams, I am aware that in y interdisciplinary spaces now such body of theory-work takes centre stage.

        • Susan Dawson

          Thank you for taking the time to write this and apologies for my slow response. I think I read it, thought, hmmm, need to come back and read that again slowly sometime and then ….

          Still struggling to make sense of your key phrase. I can see that the representation of what we know through language is different from a representation of what we know through art or drama or song, but at the end of the day they are all representations from the perspective of the author, speaker, painter, musician or whoever, not the same as ‘what is’. So, when you explain the story behind ‘Dancing in the plateia’ I get a very different picture from the one I had from just listening to the music, and neither are the thing itself. For me the more helpful phrase is ‘What is in the world and what we know about things in the world are constantly shaping one another’. The idea of reciprocity seems more helpful than what is and what we know are no different.

          Interesting – maybe when the thesis is written, I could do some reading …..

  • Richard Fay

    So, how was it? This was my first time to a big US conference and I learned a great deal from it but also from the conversations with Min, Gameli and Katja with whom I was working there.

    I learned about the preoccupations of US academics with a qualitative bent (and maybe this applies more widely?) – e.g. preoccupations with tenure, with funding, with the straitjacket of the 5-chapter dissertation (thesis), with ethics review panels, with the history of their struggle to establish the QI-type space in an unpromising academic-research environment, and with THE iconic names / theorists in this history.

    For an international conference, I found this self-absorbed US-ness surprising, and, given the radical credentials (e.g. from feminist researchers, indigenous methodologists) and radical intent of the congress, I expected it to be more globally inclusive (and to see evidence of an embrace of e.g. southern theory).

    I noted the great fluency (arising from the shared history) of the QI theorising, and realised how far off being similarly fluent I am.

    I was shocked by some of the insights I heard (e.g. re the enduring racism in the US and how it affects individuals of colour in education and health).

    I began to understand some of the new materialist thinking and glimpse how it might play out in my own research with its arts-orientation (e.g. for the RM-ly at Borders project).

    Within our team, many conversations revolved around the role of the arts as research, in research, for disseminating research, etc, and about the transformative power of the creative space, and I was reminded of the need not to just argue the case for something (e.g. arts-based research) but also, and more importantly, of the need to do it well.

    In our paper, the congress provided a great stimulus to develop clearer thinking about the combination of interthinking, new materialism, and the transformatory power of the creative space. Hopefully, this may develop from a short performance-paper into something more enduring.

  • Zhuomin Huang

    Through the Eye of Visual-Creative-Arts: Exploring Intercultural Personhood

    Zhuomin Huang
    School of Environment, Education and Development
    The University of Manchester

    Arts-based Research

    Visual-creative-arts, internationalisation, higher education, intercultural communication, intercultural personhood

    In this paper, I show how ‘visual-creative-arts’ (VCAs) can be used to explore the intercultural personhood of students studying and living in an interculturally-rich context – for example, the increasingly internationalised University of Manchester (UoM) as located in a multicultural urban setting (i.e. Manchester). By ‘intercultural personhood’, following Kim (2008, 2015), I mean an individual’s perspective on ‘who I am’ in such a context. My discussion in this paper is informed by my on-going doctoral study about the roles of mindfulness (Ting-Toomey & Kurogi, 1998) in the VCAs-accounts from mature students about their intercultural experiences. The primary focus of the paper is methodological – in it, I outline the VCAs-based methods such as ‘Blind-portrait’, ‘Digital-edited Photography’, and ‘Free-style Painting’ I use to explore intercultural personhood. I offer a methodological contribution regarding the use of VCAs-based methods in, for, and as research.

    Kim, Y. Y. (2008). Intercultural personhood: Globalization and a way of being. International journal of intercultural relations, 32(4), 359-368.
    Kim, Y. Y. (2015). Finding a “home” beyond culture: The emergence of intercultural personhood in the globalizing world. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 46, 3-12.
    Ting-Toomey, S., & Kurogi, A. (1998). Facework competence in intercultural conflict: An updated face-negotiation theory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 22(2), 187-225.

  • Susan Dawson

    Great news for all these acceptances, Min, Richard, Mariam and all the Rm-ly crowd.. Is this related to the ‘performance’ in Brussels last year? Sounds very interesting.

  • Richard Fay

    Abstract for the ‘creative interthinking’ paper:
    In this paper, we first recreate parts of a performance (using dialogue, mime, music, and poetry) developed collaboratively by creative artists and applied linguists. The performance was staged within a complex (multi-sited/-modal/-lingual/-disciplinary) project, Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State. This project researches interpretation, translation and multilingual practices in contexts where language use is marked by institutional, psychological and political ‘pain’ and ‘pressure’. Second, we extend Littleton and Mercer’s (2013) ‘interthinking’ to reflect on the performance and consider its deepening of our individual and collective project understandings. As framed by this understanding of ‘performance-as-interthinking’, we reflect on our collaborative creative spaces and processes (i.e. on our multimodal creative interthinking) and how these enabled new, more embodied, insights into the previously un(der)-articulated, and incompletely understood complexities and focus of the project.

    Littleton, K. and Mercer, N. (2013). Interthinking: putting talk to work. London: Routledge.