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Rethinking the place of emotions in the field through social laboratories


Schurr, Carolin; Abdo, Katharina (2016). Rethinking the place of emotions in the field through social laboratories. Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 23(1):120-133.

Abstract

The insights of feminist science and technology studies (STS) into the constructed and situated nature of knowledge have proved crucial to informing feminist geography. Since the rise of emotional geographies, feminist methodologies no longer simply reflect on questions of positionality, partiality, and power relations, but also on the role of emotions in the field. In this article, we argue that a feminist STS perspective has much to offer when thinking about the way emotions are engineered, controlled, and negotiated in research processes. Our engagement with what we call ‘social laboratories’ – i.e., spaces in everyday life where (experimental) research is conducted with human beings – advances debates in feminist geography, as these laboratories crystallize the emotional entanglements feminists encounter in the field. Looking at economic experiments in Ghana and fertility clinics in Mexico, we discuss the difficulties of doing feminist fieldwork in these experimental research spaces. We argue that the constant negotiation of emotions and ethics is crucial to access, assess, and do fieldwork in research settings that do not adhere to feminist ideals, but nevertheless have gendered effects on women’s and men’s lives. Rethinking ‘the place of emotions in research’ (Bondi 2005, in Emotional Geographies, edited by Joyce Davidson, Liz Bondi, and Mick Smith, 231–246, Aldershot: Ashgate) through social laboratories forges instructive links across feminist/emotional geographies and social studies of science.

Abstract

The insights of feminist science and technology studies (STS) into the constructed and situated nature of knowledge have proved crucial to informing feminist geography. Since the rise of emotional geographies, feminist methodologies no longer simply reflect on questions of positionality, partiality, and power relations, but also on the role of emotions in the field. In this article, we argue that a feminist STS perspective has much to offer when thinking about the way emotions are engineered, controlled, and negotiated in research processes. Our engagement with what we call ‘social laboratories’ – i.e., spaces in everyday life where (experimental) research is conducted with human beings – advances debates in feminist geography, as these laboratories crystallize the emotional entanglements feminists encounter in the field. Looking at economic experiments in Ghana and fertility clinics in Mexico, we discuss the difficulties of doing feminist fieldwork in these experimental research spaces. We argue that the constant negotiation of emotions and ethics is crucial to access, assess, and do fieldwork in research settings that do not adhere to feminist ideals, but nevertheless have gendered effects on women’s and men’s lives. Rethinking ‘the place of emotions in research’ (Bondi 2005, in Emotional Geographies, edited by Joyce Davidson, Liz Bondi, and Mick Smith, 231–246, Aldershot: Ashgate) through social laboratories forges instructive links across feminist/emotional geographies and social studies of science.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:29 Apr 2015 14:38
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:14
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0966-369X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2014.970138

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