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Performing a more-than-human material imagination during fieldwork: muddy boots, diarizing and putting vitalism on video

Performing a more-than-human material imagination during fieldwork: muddy boots, diarizing and... Sarah Whatmore has argued that ‘[t]here is an urgent need to supplement the familiar repertoire of humanist methods that rely on generating talk and text with experimental practices that amplify other sensory, bodily and affective registers and extend the company and modality of what constitutes a research subject’. But how does one do this? What kinds of research practices are useful? And more specifically, what kinds of methods can help to conjure and enact a vitalist materialism in the field? This essay offers a brief and critical account of how the author attempted to perform a vitalist materialism through fieldwork practices undertaken in 2007. Research into Caribbean agronomic responses to the EU Sugar Reform involved ‘muddy boots’, diary writing, and video documentation methods. Participating in the thick of agronomic experiments facilitated a greater sensitivity to and awareness of the interactions and miscommunications involved between different vital agencies and video provided an evocative way of communicating more-than-human materialities. In sum, these methods were successful with regard to Whatmore’s call, but proved to be more useful as memory-prompting tools. This author found that practising vitalist fieldwork did not mean that one had to enrol fantastical new methods to reveal or get at ‘the vital’. Rather, the cultivation of a vitalist geographical imagination that was receptive and open to the liveliness of materialities and the significance of relational becomings was much more important. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Cultural Geographies SAGE

Performing a more-than-human material imagination during fieldwork: muddy boots, diarizing and putting vitalism on video

Cultural Geographies , Volume 21 (2): 7 – Apr 1, 2014

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References (24)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2013
ISSN
1474-4740
eISSN
1477-0881
DOI
10.1177/1474474012469004
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Sarah Whatmore has argued that ‘[t]here is an urgent need to supplement the familiar repertoire of humanist methods that rely on generating talk and text with experimental practices that amplify other sensory, bodily and affective registers and extend the company and modality of what constitutes a research subject’. But how does one do this? What kinds of research practices are useful? And more specifically, what kinds of methods can help to conjure and enact a vitalist materialism in the field? This essay offers a brief and critical account of how the author attempted to perform a vitalist materialism through fieldwork practices undertaken in 2007. Research into Caribbean agronomic responses to the EU Sugar Reform involved ‘muddy boots’, diary writing, and video documentation methods. Participating in the thick of agronomic experiments facilitated a greater sensitivity to and awareness of the interactions and miscommunications involved between different vital agencies and video provided an evocative way of communicating more-than-human materialities. In sum, these methods were successful with regard to Whatmore’s call, but proved to be more useful as memory-prompting tools. This author found that practising vitalist fieldwork did not mean that one had to enrol fantastical new methods to reveal or get at ‘the vital’. Rather, the cultivation of a vitalist geographical imagination that was receptive and open to the liveliness of materialities and the significance of relational becomings was much more important.

Journal

Cultural GeographiesSAGE

Published: Apr 1, 2014

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