Seventeenth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry

19-22 May 2021

Theme: Collaborative Futures in Qualitative Inquiry

The Organizing Committee of ICQI 2021 has been carefully evaluating how COVID-19 may impact the 2021 Congress meetings, including various forms of engagement (sessions, workshops, publisher exhibits, etc.) and delivery (face-to-face, hybrid, virtual). After much consideration, we are pleased to announced that we are moving forward with two ways for participants to engage with the Congress: 1) a fully online virtual experience; and, tentatively, 2) an in-person, face-to-face experience, with access to the virtual content.

The safety of our community is of the utmost importance. Given the current state of the global pandemic, it may become necessary in the intervening period for the Congress to move solely to a fully online virtual model for 2021. Registration will not open until early 2021, so that participants can have a full and final accounting of the Congress format(s) before having to commit to attending. We trust that participants will bear with us as we navigate these difficult and uncertain times.

The virtual model will allow participants:

  • Access to Congress sessions, plenaries, and keynotes, accessible on-demand for a fixed period following the conference for participants
  • Ability to schedule real-time video conferencing meetings with publishers
  • Ability to participate in conference workshops
  • A dedicated website portal for all conference sessions, scheduling, and so forth

Engaging with the virtual model will also mean ‘attending’ the Congress will come at a lower cost (no need for travel and accommodations) and with no risk that the Congress will be cancelled in toto due to circumstances outside of our control as related to COVID-19. It was with great sadness that we had to cancel the 2020 meetings; making preparations like the ones above ensures the Congress will take place in some form in 2021!

We will continue to update the ICQI community via the Congress website (http://icqi.org) as we proceed in our planning over the next few months.


The theme of the 2021 Congress is Collaborative Futures in Qualitative Inquiry.

Once submission opens, abstracts can be submitted through January 15, 2021.

The rapidly changing social, cultural, political, economic, and technological dynamics brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are inescapable as we endeavor to move forward. The pandemic has also amplified hard truths about everyday life: the ongoing historical devaluation of teachers, nurses, and service workers, and the precarity of the working classes; the unyielding privileging of business and the free market as the answer to all social and health ills; the differential experience of the virus relative to race, class, and gender dynamics, including as related to co-morbidity and mortality rates, access to care, and visibility; the rise of right-wing populism and its deleterious impact on positive governmental responses to pandemic conditions; the prominence of conspiracy theories in mainstream and social media discourse (e.g., masks don’t help, virus is man-made, etc.).

At the same time, we cannot overlook the broader context in which the 2021 Congress will take place: Black Lives Matter; creeping authoritarianism; environmental crises; economic shocks to higher education; continuing public health crises.

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, critically, where we are going. We cannot go at it alone. We need to imagine new ways to collaborate, to engage in research and activism. New ways of representing and intervening into the historical present. New ways to conduct research, and a rethinking of in whose interest our research benefits.

Sessions in the 2021 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.


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 Seventeenth 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.