This thesis examines how the feminist physicist Karen Barad’s theoretical framework of agential realism contributes to selected practices of trans disciplinary gender studies in the fields of public health/medicine, the humanities and social sciences. Through 6 interviews with Danish gender researchers it is examined how the organization of research practices includes the intersection of materiality and discursivity. By using the analytical cut ‘body’, it is analysed how certain conceptualizations of ontology and epistemology implicate certain research practices and consequently a specific knowledge production. The examined gender research practices can be divided into a medical and a humanistic tradition of knowledge, which are readily perceived as two different ways of producing knowledge. But as a common feature in the thematized research practices the analysis shows that ‘body’ is conceptualized through binary concepts such as ‘body/language’, ‘body/culture’ or ‘body/sociality’ that corresponds with dualisms such as ‘biology/socio-cultural’, ‘materiality/discourse’ and ‘nature/culture’. The dualistic way of thinking is linked to how representationalism is a fundamental framework for the knowledge produced in the gender research practices, and the linguistic latitude is thus dominated by a dualistic mind-set. Both the medical and the humanistic fields seek to fathom the entanglement of materiality and discursivity, but due to the representationalist framework ambivalences occur in the research practices when this entanglement is examined. Agential realism provides a fundamentally different ontological and epistemological framework through the concept of ethico-onto-epistem-ology, which means that the ontological and epistemological levels are inseparable. Building on the work of quantum-physicist Niels Bohr, Barad argues that ‘reality’ has no static properties but consists of a fundamental discontinuity. Phenomena are intra-actively constituted through a complexity of agencies, and the two constructed dimensions of ‘materiality’ and ‘discursivity’ are understood as one practice – articulated by the material-discursive phenomenon. Agential realism helps to put into perspective the different positions of theory of science in the gender research practices, which shows how the representationalistic framework demands the notions of materiality and discursivity conceptualized as two dichotomous concepts that cannot be integrated and where one is typically given precedence. The use of agential realism demands for a widening and reformulation of the available language and thereby the limitations on how phenomena can be conceptualized. The thesis shows how agential realism contributes to the thematized gender research practices by offering an alternative position of theory of science that can comprehend the entangled practice of materiality and discursivity. Representationalism’s implications in the thematized research practices calls for a rethinking and development of the analytical framework of agential realism in gender research practices.
|Status||Udgivet - 2013|