Qualitative Inquiry in Post(?)-Pandemic Times

17-20 May 2023, Urbana, Illinois, USA

Abstracts can be submitted  through 15 February, 2023.

The 2023 Congress will be in-person, unless there is a need to hold it virtual-only.

The theme of the 2023 congress is Qualitative Inquiry in Post(?)-Pandemic Times. As we prepare for the 2023 Congress, it is becoming ever more common to hear that ‘the world’ has turned multiple corners in the last year, slowly recovering from a  devastating epidemic not seen in the 20th century: while COVID-19 vaccines are becoming increasingly available to the broader population uncertainty  erodes any permanent  sense of hope. Thus we cannot lose sight of the broader context in which the 2023 Congress will take place: not only will the social, cultural, political, and economic fallout from COVID-19 continue to impact all quarters of daily life (including the politicization of vaccines, mask wearing, and so forth), but so, too, will the following: the social justice struggles of BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements; growing violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities; rising authoritarianism and nationalist sentiment; settler colonialism; environmental crises; economic shocks to higher education; continuing public health crises; political assaults on science; the fracturing of communities.


On the International front, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the tactics that Russia is using that are worsening the humanitarian crisis that has resulted from it. We are committed to supporting the people of Ukraine, and in particular those in the education and research community whom we serve. We also support those in Russia who have bravely denounced their government’s actions, including many in the academic community.


In these uncertain times, the 2023 Congress looks ahead with a renewed sense of hope, but remains grounded in the reality that much work lies ahead. Collectively and collaboratively, this moment calls for a critical, performative, social justice inquiry directed at the multiple crises of our historical present. We need a rethinking of where we have been, and, crucially, where we are going–and how we will get there. Our inquiry must meet the demands of our hopeful–but evolving–future. It is in the hands of the diverse and evolving ICQI community to intervene into the challenges and demands that we face–to be present to the history that we all shape. These challenges and demands may require us to rethink our ethical, political, and methodological moorings–especially in an evolving post? pandemic  COVID landscape. Although we do not know what the future may hold, we must ensure our voices will be heard as we continue to intervene into the spaces of the everyday–working toward a more diverse, inclusive, and transformative present.

Sessions in the 2023 Congress will take up these topics, as well as those related to and/or utilizing: feminist inquiry; Critical Race Theory; intersectionality; queer theory; critical disability research; phenomenology; Indigenous methodologies; postcolonial and decolonized knowing; poststructural engagements; diffraction and intra-action; digital methodologies; autoethnography; visual methodologies; thematic analysis; performance; art as research; critical participatory action research; multivocality; collaborative inquiry; and the politics of evidence. Sessions will also discuss threats to shared governance; attacks on freedom of speech; public policy discourse; and research as resistance.


Additionally, and as part of our ongoing commitment to further the conversation on qualitative inquiry amidst our COVID-19 landscape, we are continuing a recurring special ‘themed’ section of the SAGE journal Cultural Studies<=>Critical Methodologies on transformative visions for critical qualitative inquiry in COVID times. This is a historical present that cries out for emancipatory visions, for visions that inspire transformative inquiries, for inquiries that can provide the moral compass to move people to struggle and resist oppression. But despair prevails. Are our only weapons masks, vaccines, and hiding in our homes? How do we find meaning in a world now defined by a seemingly out of control act of nature? What does a transformative paradigm mean under such circumstances? And, simultaneously, how do we confront the human made pandemics of inequality, poverty, suffering, racism, climate change, violence oppression, and injustice we continue to face in the contemporary moment? There can be no turning away


ICQI has been held annually on the campus of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Founded in 2005, its mission is to facilitate the development of qualitative research methods across a wide variety of academic disciplines. ICQI provides leadership to demonstrate the promise of qualitative inquiry as a form of democratic practice, to show how qualitative inquiry can be used to directly engage pressing social issues at the level of local, state, national and global communities. The Congress sponsors the journal International Review of Qualitative Research (IRQR), and three book series. It is the largest annual gathering of qualitative scholars in the world.

Scholars come to the Congress to resist, to celebrate community, to experiment with traditional and new methodologies, with new technologies of representation. Together we seek to develop guidelines and exemplars concerning advocacy, inquiry and social justice concerns. We share a commitment to change the world, to engage in ethical work that makes a positive difference. As critical scholars, our task is to bring the past and the future into the present, allowing us to engage realistic utopian pedagogies of hope.

Scholars from around the world have accepted the challenge to gather together in common purpose to collectively imagine creative and critical responses to a global community in crisis. The International Congress offers us an opportunity to experiment, take risks, explore new presentational forms, share experiences, problems and hopes concerning the conduct of critical qualitative inquiry in this time of global uncertainty.



The Task at Hand: Qualitative Inquiry in (Post?) Pandemic Times

Stacy Holman Jones, Monash University

In an interview about his 2022 poetry collection Time is a Mother, Ocean Vuong observes,

And a lot of folks ask me, how can you be so vulnerable in your work? How can you look at difficult histories, personal and political and historical, and keep going? How do you take care of yourself? And I said, I signed up for this, you know? I don’t think it’s a burden to look at everything that is human, the joys and the difficulty…the task at hand is to not turn away from the light and the dark. 

In this talk, I consider how qualitative inquiry can begin the reparative work of making sense—whilst at the same time vulnerably acknowledging the ongoingness—of a world in pandemic. How can qualitative inquiry reckon with the recuperative and unbreakable entanglements of the earth, humans and other species, sentiments and actions? How does qualitative inquiry recognise the necessity of telling a collective story of climate emergency, war and genocide, spiralling mental and physical crises, and the stranglehold of corporate  and state interests on all forms of life? Rather than learning to ‘live with’ these things, qualitative inquiry asks us to live, love and work differently. It asks us to mutually embrace both the light and the dark. The task at hand then is for qualitative inquiry to cooperatively push against languishing grief, narrative fatigue and cultures of denial to make the life-altering nature of the pandemic not an ending, but instead the beginning of hope.


The Story Will Not be Thematized: Futures in Qualitative Research

Devika Chawla, Ohio University

My keynote address examines my troubled relationship with qualitative research. Even though I am academically trained in qualitative methods, published in journals that showcase such methods, and have even served as the editor-in-chief of a journal dedicated to such methods, I struggle with how best to teach these methods. In this address I identify and unpack the issues that make for my troubled relationship with these approaches. In many cases, these issues arise from a mismatch between my training in qualitative research in the West and the world in the global south where my experiences are also located.  Simply put, this mismatch is a postcolonial struggle.  I discuss why I am always questioning our push for more lengthy and thicker qualitative data that lends itself to more layered and nuanced analyses. I do so by sharing stories of transformative field moments, which led me to conclude that I can no longer teach qualitative research in the way that I was taught. I gently propose that analysis and representation are as much about loss as they are about gain. Ultimately, my goal is to invite us to envision less analytically ambitious futures for qualitative research.