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Positionality in postdigital research: the power to effect change
The notion of conducting postdigital research opens up an endless range of diverse topics and possible methodological approaches. This may be a strength, but also a barrier, to furthering powerful, disruptive opportunities for concrete forms of political change that the idea of the postdigital offers, should order become imposed. As a messy, universal concept, the postdigital remains widely open to diverse, cultural interpretations of what to research, and how to research it. There is a real strength in this inclusive space where all may enter, and contribute to, postdigital dialogue (Jandrić, et. al, 2019). Yet to effect meaningful change from this body of research, our collaborative community also requires concrete examples of studies, that are in dialogue with the diverse, postdigital positionalities (Hayes, 2021) of each researcher. By postdigital positionality, I refer to a personal stance and critically reflexive conviction by each individual to engage with their own identity, values and potential bias as they conduct postdigital research within a neoliberal, data-driven, digitally unequal society, where culture wars rage. Postdigital research has a heritage (Jandrić, MacKenzie & Knox, 2022) which includes its emergence from the arts, humanities and creative subjects, which are currently under attack (Hall, 2022).
In this presentation, the role of personal, postdigital positionalities of researchers will be examined alongside the globally collaborative nature of the postdigital research community. Firstly, the broader context of research and research methods, that often arrive from a mainly Westernised approach, and funding model, will be considered. These challenges will be discussed alongside postdigital possibilities to embrace what is often marginalised, in terms of research in global and local contexts of disadvantage. This includes, but is not limited to, postdigital poverty as a barrier to participation. Here the idea of the postdigital is raised as a vehicle for change and a collaborative space where isolated researchers into decolonisation of different areas of postdigital life might gather in dialogue. Secondly, the more individual nature of postdigital research is examined through positionality. This includes different stances that a postdigital researcher might take and the critical reflexivity that is incumbent upon them to exercise, in order to further any ideas of a postdigital research manifesto. Such a manifesto though needs to be dissolved as quickly as it is suggested, so that the power of the messy, open idea of the postdigital is preserved.
Therefore, the presentation concludes with this paradox in mind, outlining some possible features of a positional, postdigital research stance. This might include for example a pledge as a researcher to continually interrogate what is assumed about digital life, positionality and the humanities. It might capture what it means to ‘think with postdigital noise’ (Macgilchrist, 2021: 663), initiate resistance towards rivalry amongst researchers in favour of community, challenge funding or publishing models, introduce ways to resist data-driven inequities, or bring diverse global perspectives into postdigital dialogue, for meaningful change.
References Hall, G. (2022). Defund culture. Radical Philosophy, 2(12), 62-68. Hayes, S. (2021). Postdigital Positionality: developing powerful inclusive narratives for learning, teaching, research and policy in Higher Education. Leiden: Brill Jandrić, P, MacKenzie, and Knox, J. A. (2022). Postdigital Research: Genealogies, Challenges, and Future Perspectives. Postdigital Science and Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-022-00306-3 Jandrić, P., Ryberg, T., Knox, J., Lacković, N., Hayes, S., Suoranta, J., Smith, M., Steketee, A., Peters, M., McLaren, P., Ford, D. R., Asher, G., McGregor, C., Stewart, G., Williamson, B. & Gibbons, A. (2019). Postdigital Dialogue. Postdigital Science and Education, 1-27. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-018-0011-x Macgilchrist, F. (2021). Theories of Postdigital Heterogeneity: Implications for Research on Education and Datafication. Postdigital Science Education 3, 660–667. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-021-00232-w