The articles in this collection share a concern for place, space and bodies as frameworks for thinking about and conducting educational research. The authors range in experience from senior academics, independent educators, beginning and emerging new researchers spanning a range of educational sectors. The articles originate from connections forged within and between Australia and northern countries with visits back and forth between 2004 and 2010. Some of the writers have met each other in these travels and others have not. All have encountered and participated in some way in the work of the space place and body research group, which originated in 2007 as a named research ‘node’ at Monash University.
The space place and body group formed as a result of a process designed to re-imagine research in the Faculty of Education at Monash University in order to address ‘the big questions of our time’. As a leading global university with campuses in Asia and Europe as well as several in Australia, the Dean of the Faculty cited recent evidence that the field of educational research had become too narrowly focused and that new approaches were needed to enliven the field and move it forward. Individualistic research was no longer supported and groups were formed organically around coalitions of interest. The purpose of the space place and body group was to come together to generate new conceptual, theoretical and methodological resources within the core concepts of space, place and body by collaborating across our differences. In the early phase of our development we focused on linked identity (ontological) and knowledge (epistemological) work, at the intersection of postcolonial and poststructural approaches to place in educational research. A specific interest in alternative and creative methodologies emerged from these onto-epistemological activities.
As part of our process we initiated temporary definitions of space, place and body, to appear on our group’s website drawing on examples from our collaborative projects. The text was accompanied by a series of images, which were as important in conveying these early meanings-in-progress as the words. Our website was intended to share these ideas as ‘a stammer’, a work in progress rather than the closed texts of experts. We invited others to participate in a wider conversation of global exchange towards their ongoing evolution.
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