About Queering Futures Research Studio

values, significance, purpose, people


Values

Values can mean beliefs and judgments that guide behaviors and shape the emergence of value systems. Values can be simple and clear. Values can be emergent and messy.

Diversity is a value. Diversity is not passive. It takes effort and work. Sara Ahmed (2022), scholar and self-described feminist killjoy, wrote, “We write ourselves into existence. We write, in company. And we write back against a world that in one way, or another makes it hard for us to exist on our own terms” (para. 14).

Inclusion is a value. Inclusion is not passive. It takes effort and work. The statement, “what gets counted, counts,” is frequently attributed to Joni Seager, feminist geographer. Data collection and quantification impacts perceptions, policies, and power. Research agendas often exclude certain groups of people. Inclusive data practices intentionally collect data about and with underrepresented groups (Browne, 2008; Guyan, 2022; Kilgo, 2021; Ruberg & Ruelos, 2020).

Caring is a value. Caring is not passive. It takes effort and work. In her article, “Un-designing Apathy: Designs for Systems of Caring,” Dori Tunstall (2014) design anthropologist asked, “How does design translate the value of caring into tangible social experiences?” (p. 1).

Accountability is a value. Accountability is not passive. It takes effort and work. In her essay, “Antisocial Coding: My Year at GitHub,” Coraline Ada Ehmke, engineer, open-source advocate, and ethicist stated, “Values that are expressed but that don't change behavior are not really values, they are lies that you tell yourself” (Ehmke, 2017, para. 49).

Queering Futures Research Studio is committed to diversity, inclusion, caring, and accountability, and continuously integrates these values in its approaches and activities.

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Significance

There are many types of significance. Social significance is a type of significance that recognizes the importance of problem finding (Runco & Nemiro, 1994), critical inquiry, research context, and/or the populations under study. Social significance acknowledges and considers potential social impact.

Identity and demographics are socially significant. Queer presence is growing. Whatever the reason, there is a shift in measurable population demographics. A 2021 Gallup telephone poll of 12,416 adults in 2021 found that 20.8% of Generation Z identify as LGBTQ. This can be compared to 10.5% of millennials, 4.2% of Generation X, 2.6% of baby boomers, and .8% of traditionalists (Doherty, 2022; Jones, 2022).

Data is socially significant. The manner in which data is collected and analyzed is socially significant. Queer data is missing. This is a huge gap. Gathering meaningful data for analysis is a key aspect of producing new knowledge. If data is missing, either through bad design, the neglect or disregard of people, or through aggregation, this is erasure or exclusion by design. Neglect by design, or exclusionary practices, can be found throughout the histories of research involving people. While invisibility may keep people safe in some situations, in social research invisibility can lead to distortion, misunderstanding, and unintended consequences.

Backlash is significant. At this time in U.S. history there is a surge in fascism producing fear and hate while putting in place policies that undermine body autonomy, mental health, and safety, and legalize LGBTQIA+ discrimination and LGBTQIA+ human-rights violations.

Queering Futures Research Studio prioritizes social significance in its approaches and activities.

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Purpose

Queer is an adjective, a noun, and a verb (OED, Queer).

Queer is different and strange. Queer rejects normativity and status quo. Queer is fluid, unruly, and individualized. It connects with freedom and creativity. It includes but is certainly not limited to existing understandings of sexuality and gender.

Queer is identity and community. Queer is, “the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.” (bell hooks, 2014, as cited by Barton, 2023, p.222).

Queer is complex and powerful.

Queering Futures Research Studio chooses the verb form of Queer, Queering – because it acts, because it has, “political and methodological power… as a stance, an approach, and a process” (Jobst & Stead, 2023 p. Introduction). 'Queering’ questions, unlearns, disrupts, and transforms approaches, expectations, and realities.

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People

Jess Parris Westbrook (they/them, T1D, MFA, PhD ABD) is a genderQueer, and disabled, researcher and designer. They launched Queering Futures Research Studio in 2022 while working on their PhD dissertation. Goal: Ultimately Queering Futures Research Studio will be a network of collaborators.

A researcher is present. I have a positionality. This is my way of being. A positionality statement is authored by a researcher and serves as a mechanism for both self-reflection and disclosure. While a positionality statement, like a person, is not necessarily a static entity, it is a means to capture and describe current biases, preferences, perceptions, inclinations, tendencies, insider/outsider relationships, and advantages and disadvantages a researcher may have in a given situation. Every researcher will have a unique lived experience and therefore a unique positionality, whether this positionality is considered, authored, and shared with readers or not.

My name is Jess. My positionality moves from the physiological, as in my most basic needs, to the psychological and social. It involves my intersecting personal contexts, my disabled body, my Queer mind, and my creative ways. While these elements are described in pieces, in actuality they are impossibly (and fantastically) intertwined.

A researcher is present. I have a philosophy. This is my way of thinking. A philosophy statement is authored by a researcher and serves as a mechanism for both self-reflection and disclosure. While a philosophy statement, like perception, is not necessarily a static entity, it is a means to capture and describe current systems of thought as they relate to impressions of ontology (realities) and epistemology (knowledge). Every researcher will have a unique set of beliefs and therefore a unique philosophy, whether this philosophy is considered, authored, and shared with readers or not.

My name is Jess. My ontology aligns with complexity. I am attracted to emergent unknowns, chaos, novelty, and surprises. Complexity is a messy, creative, playful, and hopeful way of navigating reality. My epistemology aligns with Transdisciplinarity. I don’t see/feel boundaries between ideas and systems; there are always relationships and connections. As a researcher and practitioner, I am not situated within any domain or discipline. I wander and transgress. Transdisciplinarity is a messy, creative, playful, and hopeful way of navigating knowledge. Like the elements in my positionality, the elements in my philosophy are impossibly (and fantastically) intertwined.

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Jess westbrook (they/them), 2023 / more: www.jessparriswestbrook.com