“How many sums can I do”? Performative strategies and diffractive thinking as methodological tools for rethinking mathematical subjectivity
AbstractThe aim of this article is to illustrate how the understanding of mathematical subjectivity changes when transiting theoretically and methodologically from a discursive and performative thinking, as suggested by Judith Butler (1990, 1993, 1997), to an agential realist and diffractive thinking, inspired by Karen Barad’s theories (2007, 2008). To show this I have examined narrative memory stories about mathematics written by students participating in Teacher Education maths courses. I provide examples of such stories and present an in-depth analysis of one such story. The first part of the analysis has been carried out using performative methodological strategies – in relation to Judith Butler’s theories – while the latter part of analysis has been performed with the aid of diffractive methodological thinking – in relation to Barad’s theoretical perspectives. When summarising the different analyses, it becomes evident that the understanding of data – and of me as researcher – changes when transiting from one theoretical and methodological arena to another. Depending on which questions we pose, what methodological strategies we use, and which theoretical fields we get involved in, we would see and understand this differently.
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