Methodologies of Destabilization
Keller Easterling in her book Enduring Innocence articulates academic strategies that serve to limit – including litigious corrective proof, an exercise in academic ventriloquy or a three-part sermon; being journalistic, encyclopedic or totalizing. But in the face of this potential methodological minefield, then, and in the midst of a perhaps utopian call of the contemporary academic, the question remains: how do we proceed? How do we start a project?
These pitfalls leave us suspended between action and stasis – to move through this problematic space requires the assumption of a set of methodologies that do not simply voice, or indeed theorise our concerns, but seek to intervene and converse with them; to not only mediate, but to unveil new contingencies; to challenge the stagnant, oft-deemed archaic ways of reading and processes of acquiring knowledge and the way in which this knowledge is communicated.
As a newly formed research collective exploring elusive, complex sites of knowledge production and Geopolitical points of tension, error and failure, we are treading this unstable ground and finding great value in this process of exploring experimental methodologies. Prof. Irit Rogoff describes a theorist as ‘one who has been undone by theory’ and describes the work of theory as the unravelling of the very ground on which it stands. It is this methodology of destabilization that we propose to discuss in our paper.
The paper would present our ‘working through’ – this struggle born of academic institutions where the liminalities between theory and practice are inherently problematic – where simply applying or exemplifying a theory through case study is no longer enough and the expectation is to develop a strategy of academic research that moves away from merely tracing the subject.
This paper was first delivered at Space RE:solutions: Intervention and Research in Visual Culture in Vienna, 21-23 October 2010.
An extended version of this paper, ‘Methodologies of Destabilisation’, was later published in Space (Re)Solutions: Intervention and Research in Visual Culture. [Bielefeld: Transcript] November 2011.
The extended version of the text was published with an accompanying mapping by Lucy A. Sames, ‘Mapping Methodology: Visualisation of Capital Space’.