What can you do with something that is not there? Playing-with and thinking-with absences, stalls, voids and dead-ends in feminist, posthuman and new materialist methodologies.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This multi-media presentation presents a playful methodological innovation in feminist, posthuman and new materialist approaches through wondering-with notions of what is absent in research creation practices. The purpose of my methodological thinking is to look to what can be generated when you actively seek out, think-with, play-with and make-with forms of absence, stalling, dead-ends or voids. In my playing-with the notion of what is not there, I am interested in opening up thinking with uncertainty and situated ways of knowing with research processes (Taylor, 2017) to see what could be generated. I pose the question: What can you do with something that is not there? My methodological investigations have involved what caused me to wonder with data creation and to think with what was absent, what disappointed, troubled and lacked the comfort of classification (MacLure, 2013). Some parts of the data where absences lurked brought stuttering and stickiness and got into my thinking and under my skin (MacRae et al. 2017). Specifically, my enquiry takes the opportunity that posthuman lenses offer as a chance to generate thinking rather than solve problems (Diaz-Diaz and Semenec, 2020). As a point for departure, I re-turn (Barad, 2014) to micro-events in data creation that attend to the world as manifold, intertwined, in motion and in relation with the non-human and more than human (Strom et al. 2020). The outcomes of my playing-with instances of what was absent, stalling and voided brought focus to the possibilities that arise when attending to what it problematic to make sense with. In telling the story of the absences in my data generation I pose the provocation that what at first appears empty or troublesome, can in fact invoke and invite more to think with. For researchers playing in the sandpit of feminist, posthuman and new materialist methodologies, I propose that what is sometimes sensed as lacking or troublesome or even tiny in data creation practices can be reframed as generative and productive when experimentation is the at the heart the enquiry. I offer an exemplification of Springgay and Kawilska’s (2015 p.144) notion of entangling the sensing self into data events through attending to data’s troubling absences and voids. Thus, my experimentation with stalls also brings attention to the viscosity of data that hangs around when it is re-turned to. Rather than embodying feeling of not being good enough as a researcher (Horton, 2020) when data appears not to behave, instead I position methodological practices as a seeking of potential to be playful and experimental with all manner and parts of data creation, even the parts that seem to go nowhere and at first appear to lack or lead to a dead-end. I propose that nurturing curiosity can generate further imaginings (St. Pierre, Jackson & Mazzei, 2016) and call to fellow researchers to seek the absences when they re-turn to data events.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2022
EventEuropean Conference Qualititative Research - Belgium, Brussels (online)
Duration: 2 Feb 20224 Feb 2022
Conference number: 5


ConferenceEuropean Conference Qualititative Research
Abbreviated titleECQI
CityBrussels (online)
Internet address


  • Micro-events
  • absences
  • research creation
  • feminist posthuman and new materialist methodologies


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