01whole.pdf (1.61 MB)
Songs from a resting place: an autoethnographic score
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 17:48 authored by Tracey Powis
This thesis is a re-telling of a research story. It is a re-telling in which I am concerned with the politics of the representations made in research stories, and with the relationships between the stories we tell and what is (re)produced in our embodied (research and other) relationships. Initially conceived within a programme evaluation of an Aboriginal community-owned and managed drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, the thesis was quickened by a music workshop that took place there and that constitutes a critical moment in the retelling of the research: a moment of turning back and looking towards what had gone before. Before any story of the research is a story about historical relations between psychology and Indigenous Australians; about histories of and to existing fictions of terra nullius. How to tell a story of the research in ways that account for the pre-existing political relationships upon which the research depends? How to account for the position of dominant white cultural assumptions - the position traditionally privileged within research narratives and existing fictions of terra nullius more generally? In the context of this thesis I treat these questions as theoretical and methodological. Theoretical because their address requires a different conceptualisation of a subject to the humanist, materialist 'self' that dominates discourses of psychology. Methodological because the English language and prevailing narrative forms of research in psychology predispose towards a reproduction of that subject and a reproduction of privileged epistemologies in terra nullius. Read through Positioning Theory, and drawing on work in other (including literary) fields, I develop Autoethnography as textual strategy through which I hope to enable different ways of talking/ways of talking that enable different modes of being. Adopting a polyphonic mode of representation (e.g. recorded songs, poetry, letters, and more traditional academic narratives) I interrupt the prevailing 'voice' of psychology and trace political relationships and the influences of positioning within those that a traditional monologue would obscure. From an epistemological standpoint that articulates a reciprocal relationship between discursive performance and embodied relationships, inasmuch as this thesis contributes to theoretical and methodological conversations in psychology, it therefore also constitutes an intervention into repeated citations of terra nullius in the stories we tell by reformulating the speaking position of the dominant white cultural assumptions in the telling -- abstract.