SIG In Critical and Poststructural Qualitative Psychology

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

The Day in Qualitative Psychology is the opening meeting of the Special Interest Group (SIG) in Critical and Poststructural Psychology at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. The goal of the SIG is to promote, develop, and celebrate creative qualitative inquiry in critical and poststructural psychology, with special attention to issues of social justice and disparity.

This year’s dynamic keynote address will be facilitated by, Dr. María Nichterlein Domenech (Senior Clinician, Youth Brief Intervention Service, Austin Hospital, Australia) and Dr. Jessika Boles (Monroe Carell, Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA).

“Putting theory to work” sessions

Wednesday will also host our event, “Putting Theory to Work.” These sessions will provide attendees with a “taste” of putting specific poststructural/critical theories and methodologies to work in the fields of psychology. Attendees are invited to actively “play” with data using unconventional, practice-oriented, and innovative approaches under the guidance of a methodologist. The aim of these sessions is to bridge theory and practice in a playful and hands-on manner, increase engagement with unconventional approaches, and encourage vibrant community-oriented research.

This year’s session topics and facilitators will be:

  • Body-mapping: Katherine Boydell
  • Dialogical inquiry: Paul Rhodes
  • Photo-voice: Heather Adams


We see poststructural inquiries as moving away from attempts to provide realistic, universal, and fixed representations and from referents and answers that are not situated in historical, political, and cultural positions. In underscoring the close link between knowledge and power, and the (im)possibilities of representation, poststructural forms of inquiry explore, participate in, and deconstruct experiences and meanings as part of discursive frames, linguistic practices, and relational realities. Knowledges become non-linear, fluid, and liminal between fields and disciplines, and outside of them. Rather than finding finite answers, inquiries open up possibilities, questions, and multiplicity, with an eye toward issues and constructions of social justice, inequality, and emancipation. We also consider developments in New Materialism and post-qualitative inquiry to be conducive with this agenda, allowing for novel means to reconstitute ontology and knowledge production.

Aware of the political and agentic situatedness of every form of inquiry, critical researchers seek to achieve equality and/or foster resistance, usually through collaborative and mutual approaches to an identified social issue and the knowledge/practice that may be developed or performed for its amelioration. Research is transformed into a diffractive and political practice that contributes to the empowerment of participants and to their resistance against institutionalized and hierarchical knowledge


The deadline for abstract and initiator submissions is December 1, 2018.


Individual Papers and Panels (Friday & Saturday, May 17 & 18, 2019)

During the main congress on Friday and Saturday, the SIG will organize panel presentations on different theoretical perspectives for qualitative inquiry in psychology. We invite researchers, practitioners, scholars, students, and all others within subfields of psychology to join us at this event and to engage in vibrant and thought-provoking conversations about innovative and non-conventional (post-)qualitative methodologies and experiences that may be most useful in the field of psychology. Please come and share your work, thoughts, and dreams about qualitative psychology, and how to build psychological research as a novel, engaged, and non-essentialist practice.

Submissions for individual papers are limited to 150-word abstracts. Panel submissions are comprised of at least four (4) but not more than five (5) papers, each paper with full abstract (150 words each) and author information. Panels are guaranteed an 80-minute slot (individual paper presentations are expected to run 12-15 minutes). Within each panel, we recommend allowing a generous time for Questions & Answers. The SIG Committee will organize individual papers into panels.

Although we encourage work with critical, poststructural, posthuman, or social justice focus – all presentations related to qualitative psychology will be considered. We also welcome unconventional forms of communication, representation, and audience involvement.

All submissions must be processed through the link in the psychology session (

Be sure to indicate:

  • that your presentation is part of the SIG in Qualitative Psychology, and
  • intended as individual paper or panel.

SIG submission as well as attendance of the SIG’s pre-congress conference “Day in Qualitative Psychology” is includedin the regular congress attendance fee.

Conference organizers:

  • Heather Adams, Trauma & Change Research Group, USA,
  • Katharina A. Azim, University at Buffalo (SUNY), USA,
  • Angelo Benozzo, University of Valle d’Aosta, Italy,
  • Marco Gemignani, Duquesne University and Universidad Loyola Andalucia, Spain,
  • Michael Kral, Wayne State University, USA,
  • Paul Rhodes, The University of Sydney, Australia, (co-chair)
  • Miguel Roselló Peñaloza, Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, Chile,

SIG consultants:

  • Cynthia Langtiw, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, USA,
  • Cesar Cisneros Puebla, UAM Iztapalapa, Mexico,
  • Mirka Koro-Ljungberg, Arizona State University, USA,

Keynote Speakers 2019, Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

 Dr. María Nichterlein Domenech

“Having done with judgement or, I have nothing to admit: Deleuzian provocations to a method for psychological practice.”

For the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, the critical work is only half done if it stops in critique. In line with his admiration for Spinoza, he reminds us that we are left with the untimely question of ‘what to do’, with the untimely task of living a life. Not only critique but also affirmative practices then construct a formidable challenge for a psychological discipline, in particular in a time when we are increasingly experiencing the effects of bio-power and the psy-c0mplex in Western societies. There has been a tendency in critical psychology to respond to such tendencies by renouncing the aspirations of the Enlightenment and of science in more general terms and by (re)turning – often in covert ways – to humanistic variations. As an alternative, this presentation will explore what the work of Gilles Deleuze, in his own right as well as in collaboration with Felix Guattari, proposes as an affirmative response to the challenges of living a life. In this context, I will also explore the effects that such challenge has for a critical science in psychology.

María Nichterlein Domenech, Ph.D.,Psychologist (Universidad de Chile), Ph.D. in Social Sciences (University of New South Wales). She has more than 30 years of experience working in clinical settings in Chile, Australia and New Zealand. Her work has been as a clinician (under the names of psychologist, therapist, counsellor and clinician), a supervisor, a teacher of systemic practices and as a clinical leader. The work has been carried out in different institutional settings including hospitals, universities, non-government organizations and private practice. Her research interests are in the exploration of critical approaches to clinical practice and her work has been influenced by Gregory Bateson, Ronald D. Laing, Alan Watts, Humberto Maturana, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze.

Dr. Jessika Boles

“All the Scaffolding We Cannot See: Dying Children, Dead Relatives, and the Dismantling of Living/Dying.”

What do (post)-qualitative researchers, educational psycholo-gists, child life specialists, and mourning granddaughters have in common? Very little at first glance. But, they do share questions, critique, and continuous re-interpretations of what was once considered “known”…just through different epistemological and theoretical lenses. The experiences of young children being treated for cancer, your own experiences of grief/loss, or the ways in which hospitalized children and their families describe “legacy,” point out the connections and tensions between life and death as understood in dominant discourse. At the same time, conducting research in such emotion-laden and inescapably human types of experiences can be a challenging balance to achieve. Normalcy, routines, and structure are readily accepted comforts as a researcher, clinician, or co-participant in this type of work. However, these coping mechanisms – as elements of qualitative design and analysis – can reinforce and propagate the very power relations that complicate our encounters with serious illness and loss, regardless of mechanism. Therefore, this presentation will de-construct and re-assemble qualitative design as an intentional, though uncertain, medium for facilitating expression, promoting exploration, and taking action within living/dying.

Jessika Boles, Ph.D., CCLS, is a child life specialist in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Monroe Carell, Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. Grounded in post-structuralism, her work situates child development and educational processes in culturally charged and healthcare-focused learning environments such as the pediatric hospital, outpatient clinic, community, and family. Blending recognizable, critical, and post-qualitative methods with established developmental theories, her research specifically deconstructs the ways in which children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, as well as caregivers and healthcare providers, learn about and enact dominant social binaries such as health/illness, life/death, and adulthood/childhood. Ultimately, her research interests are motivated by and entangled within a desire to make space for thinking differently about childhood cancer, familial loss, death, and the co-creation of legacy.