Fact Box

Writing research as ethico-onto-epistemic practice



May 17, 2017, 10:00h


Hohenstaufengasse 9/9, 1010 Wien

Writing research as ethico-onto-epistemic practice

Workshop with Mariacristina Sciannamblo
What kind of realities does a research account enact? How many stories can we tell about a research work? What is at stake in such alternative stories? Why does it matter?

These inquiries suggest the idea that research practices and methods do not merely capture the world, but enact it. The researcher is not just an observer who collects and elaborates data about phenomena that are 'out there' ready to be described, but she actively interacts within empirical sites and encounters, thus producing specific worldly configurations through methods and theories. This also applies to writing research accounts, which constitutes a performative epistemic practice insofar as it actively crafts the world that it is supposed to (passively) record.

Drawing on two years of ethnography in a telecommunication company, in this workshop I will discuss the situated position of the researcher in the field, and the character of methodologies as 'thinking technologies' and scientific practice as a 'story-telling practice'. In light of Science and Technology Studies and Feminist Technoscience Studies scholarship, I aim to unfold the performative character of research practices and the ethical concerns that such a character implies. Theoretically speaking, the enacting moment of making knowledge through writing practices marks out a shift from empiricist realism (the assumption that there is a single reality to be captured with proper methods) to 'ontological multiplicity', namely the understanding that reality is constituted by network-hinterlands, sets of connectivities, and circuits which are done and enacted rather than simply observed. Such understanding of writing as onto-epistemic practice solicits ethical concerns and, therefore, it matters for its power of accounting for — thus producing — multiple realities that differ in terms of power, knowledge, gender, location and visibility.

Mariacristina Sciannamblo is a postdoctoral researcher at Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI). She has a background in Science and Technology Studies, Feminist Technoscience Studies, and Media Studies. Her PhD research revolved around the gender-informed and feminist critique of Information Technology (IT), and on the understanding of how computer-supported cooperative work tools shape organisations. Currently, she works within the European-funded project PIE News/Commonfare, with a focus on public engagement in participatory design projects that aim at addressing critical social issues such as low income, precariousness, and unemployment.

In the context of ‘doing research’ ‘in the field’(/wild) and potential upcoming ‘intra-actions in the woods’, we would like to look at different methods of research used in fieldwork and writing. Through inviting guests to share their working processes with us, we will ask how these methods relate to what is observed, how they construct the entities produced and determine what we can know.