Countering Repression: Justice and Equity Becoming(s)with Critical Qualitative Inquiry, Gaile S. Cannella, Independent Scholar

As has become clear, even as movements like Me Too and Black Lives Matter gain attention and some prominence, in contemporary anti-democratic and increasingly fascist conditions (around the globe), women, people of color, youth, the poor, immigrants, the elderly, and many others face continued silencing, hatred, and violence. Further, all living creatures, as well as the earth, are placed in great peril as illustrated by conditions like forced climate migration, expanded economic inequity, extinction, and even genocide. Although critical scholars have created projects grounded in the belief that research can counter injustice, inequity, and repression, transformations that increase justice (social or otherwise) have not always been the result. Therefore, in this current context, in these troubled times, and in order to determine possibilities for direct action, this presentation uses Haraway’s (2016) notion of becomingwith to further facilitate the emergence of qualitative research (re)conceptualizations and related public actions that focus on power, justice, and equity. Acknowledging that critical perspectives and histories originate from a range of locations (e.g. postcolonial, indigenous, feminist, posthuman), the multiplicities of justice oriented histories can becomewith our presents and futures to yield previously unthought entangled bodies, agents, kinships, assemblages, events, and actions that would move toward a more just world. Embodying namings and actions/agency simultaneously, becoming(s)with are – unforeseen, remarkable alliances and collaborations – nurturing relations that loop around and through one another –  how partners are rendered capable of, and get on together – new kinships that foster recuperation –  and, how unexpected combinations for research/inquiry construct previously unthought possibilities for justice. 


Empathy as a Tactic in Repressive Times, Ronald J. Pelias. Emeritus Professor, Southern Illinois University

Calling upon our empathic capacities has been a fundamental research strategy for those of us engaged in qualitative inquiry. For a few quick examples, I might mention that ethnography’s demand for participant observation is a push toward walking in another’s shoes as a means for understanding and feeling with those living in a given community. Effective interviewing, key to so many qualitative orientations, requires taking into account the perspectives of others and empathic listening. At the center of performance methods is the “magic if,” the questioning of how one might feel by projecting oneself into another’s “given circumstances” (Stanislavski, 1936). Even autoethnography as it speaks from a located self becomes more persuasive and more ethically secure when empathy guides renderings of others. In these repressive times, however, empathy may seem at odds with personal desires given our ongoing levels of frustration and anger, may appear politically naïve, and may lack efficacy. In this essay, I put on display my continued belief in empathy’s constructive power and my suspicion that empathy as practiced in our prevailing neoliberal climate is inadequate to the task of social change. My aim, then, is to outline some empathic tactics in keeping with a qualitative inquiry ethical sensibility and responsive to a regiment of repression.