From space(s) of failure to creativity

Authors: Madhumita Dutta*, The Ohio State University
Topics: Field Methods, Gender
Keywords: Creative methodologies, feminist practices, failures
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8226, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In this short paper, I would like to reflect on the ‘creative turn’ to my research as I encountered failures in doing field research in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. My research was focused around the lives and labor of young migrant women who had come to work in an electronics Special Economic Zone located in an industrial area outside Chennai city. I was committed to an approach that would enable women to tell their stories with ‘an intimacy, complexity and force’ (Pratt, 2000: 640). However, while conducting my field research I inadvertently produced ‘space(s) of failure’ that did not necessarily create meaningful collaborations. However, things changed significantly as a possibility emerged to create something together in the form of public radio podcasts. It opened up the space for conversations and motivated the women to come up with their own thoughts, ideas and themes for discussions. The fact that it was a medium through which women could voice their opinions on issues that mattered to them, and the possibility of being heard or listened to, perhaps played an important role in producing such collaboration. The podcasts were ‘acts of speech’ through which they wanted to put into circulation their viewpoints about the society and their place within it. By making the radio podcasts, the women produced what Ong describes as ‘marginal groups interven[ing] in global narratives by putting into circulation alternative circuits of discursive power’ (1995: 354).

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