Posts Tagged 'Space'

Subject to Change: Ontology in the Open Field

Scott East

Thursday 30th April, 2010, from 1 to 3pm

Presentation Room (UTS Bldg. 3, Lvl. 5, Rm. 510)

Presentation: 2omins.

Ontology in the Open Field

This reflective presentation seeks to outline the open fields that humanities research is constructed upon. Specifically, it will draw on a personalised account on resolving a complex theoretical problem encountered in the researching of a doctoral project. This problem was  my unease with particular non-representational approaches to space in the social sciences, that I had read as while rejecting the possibility of representation only did so to get closer to representing the actual social (see Thrift 2004 and 2008). Seemingly universes removed from cultural theory and the problems of non-representational theory, the teachings of renowned yogi David Life clarified my thinking in regards to this problem. Inverted on my head at a yoga retreat my perspective changed. This realisation began a private investigation into the convergences and divergences between the cultural theory I was drawing on in my academic work and yogic world views I had begun drawing on in my private life. It is on these uneven grounds of circumstance that events force us to think. In this idiosyncratic presentation I will reflect on these grounds in order to reconfigure the grounds of my research journeys as something to think with creatively.

Scott East completed a bachelor of visual arts and human geography at the University of Wollongong. In 2007 completing an honours year investigating socially engaged art practices in municipal art galleries through a blended methodology utilising approaches from the humanities and social science fields (and painted a bit). In 2008 he commenced a PhD at the Centre for Cultural Research, UWS, attached to an ARC project investigating museum interventions into climate change debates. Through these trans-disciplinary adventures, the convergences and divergences in knowledge and practices has been a silent interest. His doctoral thesis is entitled: Inhibited Exhibitionists: Museums, cultural change and the in/visibility of the future.

The Renter

Paul Byron

Thursday 30th April, 2010, from 10am to 12noon

Presentation Room (UTS Bldg. 3, Lvl. 5, Rm. 510)

Presentation: 20mins.

Two years into my PhD and I’m still grappling with what it means to do research. My research looks at practices (sex practices, bodily practices, knowledge practices) and asks participants what they do, not what they are. I aim to avoid the ontological bias of much health promotion/research that approaches subjects through existing categories of sexual identity. This side-stepping of identity extends to my own self-practices and my reluctance to call myself a researcher. I’m more interested in maintaining an uncertain engagement with research, in which I operate as a leasee of my research data. Using Certeau’s metaphor of ‘the renter’, I embrace an impermanent residence in research roles, disciplines, and methodologies. The renter, as non-proprietor, has an awareness of space as tenuous and adaptive, and always operates under these conditions. Filling boxes with one’s belongings in order to move house is tedious and time-consuming, yet allows a process of sorting, questioning, and regeneration. Ongoing renewal and impermanence requires creative and tactical use of (always temporary) spaces. Yet, uncertainty and transience may not be so welcome in the field of social science, and may make me incomprehensible within my discipline.

This paper walks through the spaces of my research but also considers the spatial elements found in discourses of young people’s sexual health (from interviews, websites, and research papers). Throughout, I will present a visual slide show of the spaces involved in my practices of making a PhD.

Paul Byron is a postgrad student at the National Centre in HIV Social Research (UNSW), exploring contemporary, local discourses of young people’s sexual health. He is interested in how discourses of bodily practices situate the body as a site of self-knowledge, and how bodies may generate expertise. In the past he has written autobiographically in zines and blogs, perhaps making it impossible to enter the field of research as an impartial witness.