Qualitative Book Award

International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry

Qualitative Book Award 2022

The Award committee – Kakali Bhattacharya, Ron Pelias, Pat Sikes, and Jonathan Wyatt (chair) – has been privileged to review 18 nominations for the 2022 ICQI book award. The Qualitative Book award recognizes books that make a major contribution to the study and practice of qualitative approaches through success in experimenting with new or traditional writing forms, the inclusion of critical reflections on the writing and research process, contributions to living meaningful lives, and insights into creating a socially just world. As in past years, the task to select winners for the award was a major challenge, given we received many excellent books for review.

Honorable mentions are awarded to two books:

Davies, B. (2020). Entanglement in the World’s Becoming and the Doing of New Materialist Inquiry. London & New York: Routledge.

This beautifully written text explores new materialist concepts and the ways in which they provoke an opening up of thought about being human and about being more-than-human. Bronwyn Davies engages intimately in encounters of various kinds, some drawn from the her everyday life, some from the research projects she has engaged in over several decades, and some from others’ research. The book works at the interface of living- and writing-as-inquiry, delving into the rich seam of conceptual possibilities opened up by Deleuze and Guattari, and Barad, and by new materialist inquiry more broadly. It brings not just words to the task, but also art, photographs, movement, memories, bodies, sound, touch, things. It makes complex concepts engaging and clear through the vivacity of its examples/illustrations. We expect it to become a go-to standard. It stays with the reader: in everyday activities – walking, being with a pet, browsing clothes in a shop – we imagine the reader may start thinking with Davies’ book, and making sense of the moment through it.

Rhee, J. (2020). Decolonial Feminist Research: Haunting, Rememory and Mothers. London & New York: Routledge.

In Decolonial Feminist Research: Haunting, Rememory and Mothers, Jeong-eun Rhee embarks on a deeply personal inquiry that is demanded by her dead mother’s haunting rememory and pursues what has become her work/life question: What methodologies are available to notice and study a reality that exceeds and defies modern scientific ontology and intelligibility? The author, a Korean migrant American educational qualitative researcher, learns anew how to notice, feel, research, and write her mother’s rememory across time, geography, languages, and ways of knowing and being. She draws on Toni Morrison’s concept of “rememory” and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s “fragmented-multi self.” Using various genres such as poems, dialogues, fictions, and theories, Rhee documents a multi-layered process of conceptualizing, researching, and writing her (m/others’) transnational rememory as a collective knowledge project of intergenerational decolonial feminists of color. In doing so, the book addresses the following questions: How can researchers write in the name and practice of research what can never be known or narrated with logic and reason? What methodologies can be used to work through and with both personal and collective losses, wounds, and connections that have become y/our questions? The book will stay with us a long time.

The winner of the 2022 Qualitative Book Award is:

Lengelle, R. (2020). Writing the Self in Bereavement: A Story of Love, Spousal Loss, and Resilience. London & New York: Routledge.

This book spoke – sang, called – to each of us in its power, vulnerability and deep engagement with scholarship. Reineke Lengelle uses her capacities as a researcher, poet, and professor of therapeutic writing to tell a heartfelt and fearless story about her grief after the death of her spouse and the year and a half following his diagnosis, illness, and passing. She demonstrates how writing can be a companion in bereavement, drawing deftly from the latest research on spousal loss. Integrated with this contemporary research are stories, poetry, and reflections on writing as a therapeutic process. The author unflinchingly explores themes that are underrepresented in existing resources: how one deals with anger associated with loss, what a healthy response might be to unfinished business with the deceased, continuing conversations with the beloved (even for agnostics and atheists), ongoing sexual desire, and secondary losses. As a rare book where an author successfully combines a personal story, heart-rending poetry, up-to-date research on grief, and an evocative exploration of taboo topics in the context of widowhood, Writing the Self in Bereavement is valuable for those grieving a loved one, those supporting others in bereavement, and those interested in the healing power of poetry and life writing. Researchers on death and dying, grief counsellors, and autoethnographers will also benefit from reading this resonant resource on love and loss.

Congratulations to all these authors!

Jonathan Wyatt, chair, ICQI 2022 Book Award Committee

Edinburgh, March 2022