Morgan Sinton-Hewitt



What is the nature-culture of our relationships, our being in the world?  The current study takes a non-dualist position (elaborate?)  in exploring how we experience the co-mingling of natural and social forces, different material-discursive agencies, within the realm of experience. In exploration of this phenomenon, Barad (2007) poses the following post-humanist and performative entanglement of signification and materiality:

…remembering is not a replay of a string of moments, but an enlivening and reconfiguring of past and future that is larger than any individual… like all intra-actions, they extend the entanglements and responsibilities of which one is a part… (Barad, 2007; ix)

Here, realities emerge though intra-action, as opposed to the interaction of separate entities, and this is understood to be a fundamental process of being and becoming in the world. Agency is non-fixed or predetermined: the experience of agential realities (Barad, 1999) through which we know and experience ourselves and others (Pure mobility – bergson). Barad (2007) reminds us that we are part of the nature we seek to know, entangled with how specific intra-actions matter the world (Barad, 2003). Here, knowing is situated as arising from within our intra-actions within the world, ontology and epistemology are not separate (Barad, 2007). This gives a handle on)Hararay’s (1992) fundamental question of how we know a critical difference from within (Barad, 1998; 2007). 

Braidotti (2011) calls for a bodily materialism: an empirical account of how our bodies are sites of meaning making; constellations intricately embedded within the world. (The) body as a specific, local constellation (part of the world) and its re-configurations complicate the location of self as spatially fixed, enclosed, or as a finished product, with ultimate or hierarchical sovereignty over non-human others (Barad, 2007; Rautio, 2013). Willig (2011) advocates that research practice must transcend discourse based accounts of embodied experience. These create representational knowledge(s): notions of being in the worlds as static or fixed (Henriques et al., 1998). 

Relationships, as intra-acting forces, trouble the passivity of matter (Barad, 2007; Bennett, 2010): 

… it was as much my son playing with the pins as it was the pins playing with my son, as if asking to be played with… (Rautio, 2013; 395)

Turkle (2011) said that our emotional lives are deeply tangled up in objects, suggesting where objects get lost; subjectivities are found. Explored in different fields, ranging from anthropology to sociology, for psychological research, objects have the potential to methodologically interlocute with experience (Bachelard, 1971; Gibson, 1979; Hoskin, 1998). Olsen (2010) suggests that a marginalisation and stigmatisation of the materiality of objects belies a vast and moving socio-cultural understanding of relationships. Berihun et al., (2014) used physical objects to ask how self is constructed and reconstructed through underlying self-other relational processes for youth healing from violence. They found through interpretive meaning making, relationships with objects provided sensate surfaces through which otherwise unseen embodied discourses and social structures could be explored.  They situate participants as researchers and researchers as participants: an equalising practice which respects the inherent difference and embodied knowledge(s) in personhood. 

In exploring the material-discursive nature-culture of experience, a non-assuming stance is critical in attending to the complexities and messy reals that make up our everyday(s). Rautio (2013) put forward a relational-material account (Hultman & Lenz-Taguchi, 2010, Anggard, 2015) of Children’s embodied and inherently rewarding process of playing with stones. Her diffractive account (van der Tuin, 2014) is underpinned by a key principal: all matter is vibrant, has agency; where experience is a mesh of related bodies (animate and non-animate) intra-acting. For the current study, the use of diffraction provides a way to notice the relational nature of “difference as a ‘critical difference within’, and not as special taxonomic marks grounding difference as apartheid” (Haraway, 1992; 299) and neither as “a matter of essence nor as inconsequential” (Barad, 2007; 72). Rautio suggests that with the material-otherness of the stone, children experience being as knowing: the portents of self are co-formed in autotelic process whereby co-existing entities produce material-discursive realities (connected and therefore not apolitical, Bennett, 2010). 

Illuminating the possibilities inherent for selfhood within intra-action (that which underpin the processes and structures in the enlivening of memory to identity formation/solidity of felt-sense notions of self) thus has consequence for politico-ethical practices within Education and opportunities thereafter. Within the current exploration, this highlights the importance of exploring adult processes, so actively re-attending taken for granted or silent discourses therein.  For psychology, this means troubling taken for granted notions of being in adulthood. Research must attend to how our notions of our bodies and our being in the world have consequence for adult developmental processes (Allegranti, 2013). This work belongs to a bourgeoning field of Human Geographies which trouble fixed, linear or hierarchical structures (taken for granted) and so takes an unknowing position towards a landscape of non-excluding human/non-human experience (Makiguchi, 1923). 

Significantly, for understanding processes of being and becoming, Rautio (2013) expands on Bennett’s (2010) recognition that an aesthetic-affective openness to our surroundings is fundamental. Attachment to or humanising our non-human environments is more readily accepted in children (Nieuwenhuys, 2011; Anggard, 2015). Rautio troubles the implicit assumption that this is naiveté, (an act of adult forgetting-forclosure?) thus Children’s embodied knowledge are taken for granted and so “outdone by education” (Rautio, 2013; 396). She challenges adults to take seriously the things and actions in which children encounter the world. In solution-resolution, Prout (2011) suggests that we must re-attend the excluded middle. Feminist thought seeks this excluded middle through a depolarisation (repositioning extreme/dissociated places of being through embodied investigation of experience) of apparent dualities, making the invisible visible, sounding out the unvoiced (Allegranti, 2013). Serrant-Green (2010) amplify the screaming silences inherent within othering practices which Johnson et al., (2004) illustrate engender the experience of marginalisation. Othering processes are intimately implicated in inclusion-exclusion practices, consequential for experiences and opportunities for self. Pre-given notions of self-other boundaries/parameters, health and (dis)ability have the potential to polarise experience (Allegranti, 2013). Prout (2011) highlights that challenging these assumptions make evident disembodied voices, such as those marginalised, de-contextualised, mis-represented and de-valued as other (different) by excluding practices (Barad, 2007). 

Bhatti, Church, Claremont and Stenner, (2009) enquire in to the spaces that open up in everyday experience(s) of being in the garden. They show how child-like spaces in-between self and other are experienced in adulthood. They call this enchantment: a temporary transformation of connection with/in the world. Bergson calls it duration They suggest that enchantment opens up potential(s) through the (e)motive action(s) of caring for self/others – which has the effect of moving the portents of experience. Their exploration of a bodily multi-sensory ‘mixing with the earth’ speaks to a posthumanist performativity (Barad, 2003): noticing how reformative (moving) processes of self-other are intimately and inherently bound up in our being and becoming in the world. In so doing, they reconcile Gibsonian notions of affordances which state that to perceive an object is to know what actions are possible for self, Spinoza’a (1993 [1677], in Bhatti et al., 2009) capacity to affect and be affected and Bachelard’s (1994; xvi–xxvii, in Bhatti et al., 2009) experience of resonance and expression of reverberation, within the context of Bergsonian (1965) duration. Therein, how the experience agency occurs – how meaning materialises (the formless into form, unseen to seen) is significant for the possibilities for self to affect and so be part of the world (Johnson et al., 2004; Serrent-Green, 2010). How we are met by Bergson and rhythmic subjectivities in co-formation. These notions integrate through Barad’s (2007) feminist-physicist’s phenomena of intra-action. Thus, embedding this within an empirical exploration speaks to a wealth of Psychological research (such as Bhatti et al., 2009) and affects a non-anthropocentric posthumanist performative exploration of how the experience of agencies mingle and mix to form memory (memory which is everything). Integrating both here has consequence for opening up the conversation between different fields (link) and so illuminates the scope for connective research practices (inc methods).

In intra-action, agencies do not precede each other therefore matter and memory are co-formed in the moment (Barad, 2007). Felski (2002) posits habit as a characteristic mode of experiencing the everyday. Representational problems arise from a reductive methodologies (Henriques, et al., 1998) which treat the body (and experience therein/without) as abstract or mechanised from which arise stimulus-response models of testing subjects on reflex or habit. (Reavey & Brown, 2006). This severs memory, producing distinct and given categories which engender Cartesian spit (Middleton & Brown, 2005; Allegranti, 2013). The notion of intra-action troubles linear or causal assumptions of age and ability, blurring the lines between autobiographical or prospective psychological understandings of memory as distinct entities. Therefore intra-action illuminates non-linear process embedded in meaning making: how self-other entangle through sensate (bodily boundaries) (e)motion in relationship with and in intimate subjectivities. Rhythms of realities

performativity (Butler, 1990; Bell, 2007) troubles the assumptions of the power of language to determine what is real in our being and becoming in the world: the ongoing flow of multi-modal experience(s). Here, grammatical categories are not taken as given, representational metaphysical substrate. Rather through self-other relationships possibilities open up for engagement with the world (Bhatti et al., 2009). Illustratively, the uses of chairs in Pina Bausch’s dance performance, Café Müller (1978) transgress contextual boundaries as simple, fixed or absolute. The performance is staged within the context of a sparingly lit café, chairs and tables litter the space, creating different solidities, interruptions and possibilities for the dancers to encounter. The objects constitute a force, marking points of disruption, with/in the felt-sense flow of durational movement which entangles in the ‘this-ness’ of the moment (Deleuze & Guttari, 2004). Additionally, it is possible to see how the performance constitutes a diffractive phenomenon (Barad, 2007): in the performative weaving and unfolding of events, the chairs matter the possibilities of intra-action for self with other(s). The differences affected therein are underpinned by contingencies of meeting and being met in the moment. This enlivens Haraway’s (1992) explication of the instability of boundaries defining objects and so to the objects of knowledge (Foucault, 1972) and grounds an explicit challenge to claims which separate nature and culture. This troubles notions of fixed self-other boundaries which situate processes into time or place as metaphysically pre-given, stable, knowable entities. Rather we must instate methodologies which allow us to notice (Dickerson, Rae & Stribling, 2007) what constitutive practices emerge in context (Haraway, 1992; Barad, 2007). 

In solution, Reavey (2011) suggests the use of parallel data sources to embed empirical data gathering in the multi-modality of experience. Arts-practice is a process of flux and flow in which we experience continual movement, force, becoming (Cox, 2011; Clark, 2012). Yusoff, et al., (2012) posit that arts-practice is not a cultural achievement or representation therein, rather positions it as non-productive (autotelic) experimentation. A sensate and disruptive force: an intimate corporeality where forms of existence arise from nonhuman others, “parts of the universe making themselves intelligible to each other” (Barad, 2007, 176). This grounds data in an embodied diffractive performative posthuman process: the iterative enfolding of different bodies into each other. Embodied and process based research practice affords the opportunity to explore how objects might become formed; that is, how difference is mattered, “articulated and brought to attention” and what might be the “effects in the real” (Foucault, 1972, 237). How do we then understand the Poststructuralist’s multiplicity of self?

Illustrative of integrative research practice, Allegranti & Wyatt (2014) articulate a feminist and embodied exploration. They use performative processes including dance, movement and writing in a material-discursive account of witnessing loss. They remind us that our becoming is contingent on mutual recognition (Butler, 2005); the witnessing of another and knowing that other from within creating “a sense of being tied into one another’s lives” (Allegranti & Wyatt, 2014; 7) where we “kinaesthetically experience the other in ourselves” (Allegranti & Wyatt, 2014; 6). Self and other are entangled in co-constitutive becoming of matter and meaning. This onto-epistemology situates being as knowing inherently through relationship, illustrating how scientific enquiry arises from arts-practice. 

Illustrative of approaches which bridge images and discourse, Goodings and Tucker (2014) forge a non-dualist interrogation of the issues faced in the psychological production of bodies online through face book’s timeline. Facebook, a social media site, enforces a particular autobiographical engagement and performance of self through a linear spatial arrangement of photos. They found that Self in relationship to linear spatial formation, experiences problems in the work that is necessary to hold and negotiate complex, messy, non-linear memory in (mind)body. They use Discourse Analysis (DA) to cross-examine the social function of language (in relationship to the lived experience of working with images) and how certain forms of language lead to particular forms of action (Edwards & Potter, 1992). Potter & Wetherell (1987) locate the self within discourse “statements and social practices that systematically form the objects, the individuals (as subjects), bodies and experiences of which they speak” (Foucault, 1972, 49). Difference or variation is considered important and revealed through speech (Goodings and Tucker, 2014). 

Noticing difference, affords interlocutive possibilities with diffractive methodologies. This work belongs to a bourgeoning field which attempts to address the processes and problems faced in investigating the relationship of language to other social processes. For the current study, this work supports DA as a systematic, methodological approach with the potential for integration of images and discourse in analysis: capturing messy realities, or difference in experience (Fenwick & Edwards, 2011). Diffractive methodologies further acknowledge how difference matters through the co-mingling of different bodies (Hultman & Lenz-Taguchi, 2010; Allegranti, 2013). The phenomenon of diffraction arises from the fields of physics through which we notice how light/water/sound moves: interference patters are markers of differences.  For Psychology, diffraction can be used to notice how differences are made and matter to us (Barad, 2007) and so dovetail with Goodings and Tucker’s (2014) approach to noticing how certain forms of language relate to action as both concern the materialisation and signification of doing. Edwards and Nicoll (2001; 106) propose:

… different elements may be combined in a variety of ways to produce different types of analysis that focus on a particular range of practices and issues. They are not part of a method to be applied, but resources in an interpretive art… 

The possibilities therein enliven and contextualise the use of Deleuze’s felt-sense being as knowing by embedding analysis of intra-action within inter-textual juxtapositions (Lenz-Taguchi, 2011; 2012) in-between parallel data sources (Reavey, 2011). A critical difference within (Haraway, 1992), the experience of realities and how different bodies affect each other, is understood to arise through the multiple perspectives inherent within lived bodily experience (Merleau-Ponty, 2008). Feminist research empirically evidences how apparent dichotomies: culture-nature, the human and the non-human agency form (un)divided things within the experience and expression of self. This orients the analysis towards noticing moments of intra-action, a sensitive data driven approach to researching experience (Dickerson, Stribling and Rae, 2007). 

Embodied methodologies acknowledge multiple, changing positions held by the researcher in relationship to the research question, participants, analytic process and field of study in which the researcher contributes to knowledge(s). Woodyer (2008) recognises the possibilities of the body as the research tool and gives voice to taken for granted positions held by the researcher as an ‘entangled witness’ (Allegranti & Wyatt, 2014). Thinking(feeling) with feminist post-humanism (also known as relational/new materialism) as influenced by Deleuze and Guattari (St Pierre, 2004; Mazzei & McCoy, 2010; Rautio, 2013) and the seminal work of feminist-physicist Barad (2007) supports an empirical diffractive research process. This notices how differences are mattered through material-discursive intra-action (Lenz- Taguchi, 2012; Rautio, 2013; Allegranti & Wyatt, 2014). In practical application in the current study, the researcher’s embodied felt-response is articulated through language and mixed-media at different stages of the enquiry. This records the co-becoming of the researcher with the research process (Gendlin, 1969; Allegranti, 2013).

We are always in relationship (Barad, 2007) where lived bodily experience (Merleau-Ponty, 2008) is a performative doing (Butler, 1990), an unfolding of self and other. This study responds to Braidotti’s (2011) call for a bodily materialism, embedding the process of being and becoming through dovetailing imprints of experience (Reavey, 2011). Enquiring into processes of self-other and aesthetic-affective openness engenders study of the realities created through material-discursive entities. Attending to and implementing a non-excluding approach to difference is materialised in the current study through making available different opportunities to engage with different material others including other people and objects. First through the use of everyday objects (Berihun et al., 2014) and then extending this through the material-others within mixed-media Arts-practice (Clark, 2012). This aims to explore how discursive-material realities arise from intra-action (Allegranti, 2013) and how this matters in the ‘real’ (Foucault, 1972). Discourse Analysis and Arts-practice therein orient the analysis towards noticing how processes of self-other, form, reveal and matter through the surface tensions within and in-between the audio and art-work: a diffractive account. This captures the material ground in memory: a co-mingling of ‘self-otherness’ as one dance into another in the space between (Haraway & Proctor; 1998; Barad, 2007; Allegranti & Wyatt, 2014).  Participants are situated as researchers and researcher(s) as participants (Berihun et al., 2014) through which all contributing voices are heard (Woodyer, 2008). For Psychology, art-science integration from the fields of Art, Physics and Philosophy allow existing materials to be put together differently, illuminating a Critical, Embodied approach to research practice (Brown et al., 2011).