PhEMaterialist encounters with glitter: the materialisation of ethics, politics and care in arts-based research
This paper re-turns to a workshop we co-organised in London in 2018 as part of a series called ‘how to do sociology with…’ (Methods Lab, Sociology Department, Goldsmiths, University of London). The series aims to consider what happens when the materials, media, objects, devices and atmospheres of social research central to our practices are brought into focus. The specific material that we worked with and thought through in this workshop was glitter – a thing that is ubiquitous in early childhood and in wider feminine, gay, and queer cultures. We draw on new materialist theories, methods and practice research to consider how preparing and dismantling this workshop might be understood as a means of enacting feminist new materialism. We do this not to propose a blueprint for how new materialisms should be done so much as to offer a series of questions, reflections, and diffractions on what unfolded and the affective and embodied traces that were left. In this sense, the paper understands arts-based practice to hold unanticipated pedagogical capacities which we attend to throughout the paper in terms of ethics, politics and care. We dwell upon ethics politics and care by drawing on long-standing feminist arguments regarding what is often neglected in written accounts of doing research and by focusing on the affective work involved in designing, choreographing, and managing a workshop that asked participants to seriousplay (Haraway, 2016) with glitter and explore its material and affective properties. We discuss our own discomfort with, and uncertainty about, organising such a workshop, and go on to outline what we see as the productive aspects and implications of orchestrating a glitter workshop for how we might conceive and do new materialist work. This includes a discussion about the response-ability of seriousplay with plastic in the contemporary climate, and more broadly about what new materialist methods and practice research might contribute to an understanding of educational and social research, and pedagogical and political practice. Throughout, photographs taken by us before, during, and after the workshop are included, to not only illustrate the points we make and give readers/viewers a different sense of the workshop, but also extend what might count as academic knowledge production and circulation.
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