Narrative Poetics and Performative Interventions

D. Soyini Madison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


One day in my performance ethnography graduate seminar, a student who was frequently absent and not keeping up with the course readings was becoming more and more frustrated with the critical and theoretical aspects of the course. He did not approve of my approach that included critical and political theory in a course he felt should focus exclusively on performance “methods.” Toward the end of one session, he looked around at all of us sitting in the seminar circle and said: “With all this emphasis on theory and politics, you are not really interested in what people are actually doing in your fieldwork; but, instead, you are telling people what to do!” My blood was boiling at the accusation that all that was said, read, done, and discussed in the seminar up to this point was so blatantly diminished to “telling people what to do!” Although the young man was often absent and not keeping up with the rest of the class, I took his complaint seriously. Perhaps he was not doing well in the class because there was some truth to his accusation and I was overemphasizing theory and politics at the expense of sound methodological practice. e student’s comment was also difficult to understand, because it has always been impossible for me to separate theory from method. How can there be such a thing as critical methods without critical theory or politics and political theory? Can’t we embrace theory and politics in the field and work for social justice-out of which our methods are generated-without being accused of “telling people what to do”?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationQualitative Inquiry and the Politics of Evidence
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781315421407
ISBN (Print)9781315421414
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • General Social Sciences


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