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Caring cuts into the postdigital – exploring postdigital methodologies with feminist STS approaches
With this presentation, I propose to answer the call to engage with the 'curious dance of epistemology and methodology' in postdigital scholarship (Jandrić et al., 2022) as a matter of the long-standing interest in the 'posts' harboured in Science and Technology Studies (STS). For example, spearheaded by Haraway, the prefix ‘post’ marks an examination into the problematics of purified phenomena, e.g. the human or the digital (Sinclair & Hayes, 2019, p. 24). Hence, a performative response, such as the methodologies of actor-network theory (ANT) (Law, 2022; Mol, 2010), offers relevant engagements into the relationalities of the postdigital. As a specific methodology of STS scholarship, ANT directs attention to the empirical matters of how practices enact postdigital educational realities and what it is to teach, learn, and research in these realities. Specifically for this presentation, I ask how the research practices in my current research project enact and amplify postdigital education.
The empirical setting is an ANT-informed ethnography with an upper secondary school in a small Swedish town between May 2020 and June 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the specificities of the field site were never only digital, online, or remote the way ‘emergency remote teaching’ or indeed ‘online teaching’ attempt to signal (Mörtsell, 2022a). Importantly, this was also the case with the research technologies; they were not merely instruments of research desires that solved and assisted in neutral ways. Some patterns of signals and silences were made possible, not others, which enacted ethical and political tensions (Law, 2022).
Feminist STS advocates for care for livable (educational) worlds by paying attention to caring cuts in research and the researcher’s responsibility in the becoming of things (Puig de La Bellacasa, 2017). Caring cuts are put to work on three more-than digital methodological-empirical events:
Coding software and an overemphasis on human voice and optics. The Zoom view of an empty classroom with spatial capacity. Online field note and symptoms of Covid-19 infection.
Situated in these specifics of postdigital research practices, I inquire and trace how analytic assemblages are shaped and enacted of caring cuts (Mörtsell, 2022b). I then discuss how such analytical methods form conditions for the postdigital research process. Jandrić and colleagues (2022) raise the issue of responsibility on part of postdigital scholarship and in this presentation I aim to take that by relating the concerns of postdigital research with that of feminist STS. And I do want to stress this genealogy. Thus, apart from the empirical account, the presentation’s contribution is the argument that postdigital scholarship, on the one hand, is not very new in terms of thinking about technology-knowledge entanglement. On the other hand, as F/STS has enjoyed remarkably little attention in digital education research (cf. Gorur et al., 2019), this is where the relevance of postdigital scholarship comes in. Postdigital scholarship shows capacities to take the thorny matters of education and technology beyond a mere critique to new commitments to building alternatives, in times when it is desperately needed (Law, 2022).
References Gorur, R., Hamilton, M., Lundahl, C., & Sjödin, E. S. (2019). Politics by other means? STS and research in education. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 40(1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/01596306.2018.1549700 Jandrić, P., MacKenzie, A., & Knox, J. (2022). Postdigital Research: Genealogies, Challenges, and Future Perspectives. Postdigital Science and Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-022-00306-3 Law, J. (2022). From After Method to care-ful research (a foreword). In C. Addey & N. Piattoeva (Eds.), Intimate Accounts of Education Policy Research: The Practice of Methods (pp. xvi–xx). Mol, A. (2010). Actor-Network Theory: Sensitive terms and enduring tensions. Kölner Zeitschrift Für Soziologie Und Sozialpsychologie. Sonderheft, 50, 253–269. Mörtsell, S. (2022a). Sociomaterial explorations of attendance practices in ‘schooling without schools’. Learning, Media and Technology, 0(0), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2022.2039939 Mörtsell, S. (2022b, May). Tracing analytic assemblages – doing doctoral research with actor-network theory. Networked Learning Conference 2022, Sundsvall. https://www.networkedlearning.aau.dk/NLC2022/Submissions/Symposia/#534591 Puig de La Bellacasa, M. (2017). Matters of care: Speculative ethics in more than human worlds (Vol. 41). University of Minnesota Press. Sinclair, C., & Hayes, S. (2019). Between the Post and the Com-Post: Examining the Postdigital ‘Work’ of a Prefix. Postdigital Science and Education, 1(1), 119–131. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-018-0017-4