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Thinking with Theory: A New Analytic for Qualitative Inquiry

Dr. Alecia Youngblood Jackson is Professor of Educational Research at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC – where she is also affiliated faculty in the Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies program at ASU. Dr. Jackson’s research interests bring feminist, poststructural, and posthuman theories of power/knowledge, language, materiality, and subjectivity to bear on a range of overlapping topics: deconstructions of narrative and voice; conceptual analyses of resistance, freedom, and agency in girls’ and women’s lives; and qualitative analysis in the “posts.” Her work, particularly in collaboration with Lisa Mazzei, seeks to animate philosophical frameworks in the production of the new. She was a keynote speaker at the Summer Institute for Qualitative Research at Manchester Metropolitan University in July 2013, and she was the invited speaker for Louisiana State University’s Curriculum Camp in February 2015. She has publications in The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Qualitative Inquiry, The International Review of Qualitative Research, Qualitative Research, Gender and Education, and numerous book chapters. She is the author, with Lisa Mazzei, of Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research (2012), and editor, with Lisa Mazzei, of Voice in Qualitative Inquiry (2009).

In my talk, I situate my collaborate work with Lisa Mazzei, which we call thinking with theory, not as a method with a script, but as a new analytic for qualitative inquiry. This new analytic works within and against the truths of humanist, conventional, and interpretive forms of inquiry and analysis that have centered and dominated qualitative research texts and practices. I will discuss how there is no formula for thinking with theory: it is something that is to come; something that happens, paradoxically, in a moment that has already happened; something emergent, unpredictable, and always re-thinkable and re-doable. Discussing his power/knowledge analysis, Foucault (2000) explained, “What I’ve written is never prescriptive either for me or for others — at most it’s instrumental and tentative” (p. 240). Following Foucault, I will argue that thinking with theory does not follow a particular method; rather it relies on a willingness to borrow and reconfigure concepts, invent approaches, and create new assemblages that demonstrate a range of analytic practices of thought, creativity, and intervention.

 

-Video by Texas Student Media

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