What Is Care?: Bio-digital collaborative writing towards conferencing otherwise

Puntil, Donata; Vackova, Petra; Cooke, Carolyn; Caton, Lucy and Dowdeswell, Emily (2024). What Is Care?: Bio-digital collaborative writing towards conferencing otherwise. In: 7th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, 10-12 Jan 2024, Helsinki, Finland.

URL: https://www.helsinki.fi/assets/drupal/2024-01/ECQI...


In our Dream Team session, we propose to explore and develop an expanded notion of care in academia through a bio-digital, collaborative writing experiment in order to do conferencing otherwise (Osgood et al., 2020) and challenge neoliberal pressures that make academic spaces inaccessible, alienating and hostile (Bozalek, 2022).
We will build on our previous Dream Team session from the ECQI conference in 2022 that took place online and during which we experimented in the Miro digital space towards reframing our collaborative writing as a bio-digital encounter. In that space we explored what it means to be a community in the post-digital era and to trouble and re-imagine the possibilities of coming together in/around/with the virtual, specifically in academia. Drawing on this work, in the forthcoming conference, we will think with/through the concept of care and ‘care-ful’ ways of working about conferencing otherwise through bio-digital writing encounters in Dropbox paper, a digital co-editing tool. We will bring different online and offline participants, those who could and could not attend the ECQI conference this year, together around the question of “What is care and how can we perform care in the context of an academic conference differently?”.
We are thinking with Maria Puig De la Bellacasa (2017) who challenges conventional notions of care and explores the significance of care as an ethical and political obligation. She suggests that care is relational, situated and messy: “Care means [...] different things to different people, in different situations.” Indeed, the notion and enactment of care differs from setting to setting, an institutional care is not the same as the care we experience at home. What is care and what can it be in a conference setting becomes a pertinent question. The concept of care we embark to explore here is more than a normative, patriarchal framings of care and caring as a pleasant affection, instead it is an everyday ethical involvement, an every-day ecological practice of ethics, response-ability, a “relation always already integral to the world’s ongoing intra-active becoming” (Barad, 2010).

We are interested here in care that Puig De La Bellacasa describes as a “thick, impure, involvement in a world where the question of how to care needs to be posed. That is, it makes of ethics a hands on, ongoing process of re- creation of ‘as well as possible’ relations and therefore one that requires a speculative opening about what it possibly involves.”
Working with Dropbox Paper as a creative digital space, we blur across the time/space/matter of the ‘bounded’ conference session, with its set time, space and material entanglements. In doing so we propose to enact what Osgood et al. (2020) describe as a disruptive conferencing, as a way of resisting neo-liberal discourses of productivity. Instead, by drawing on the work of Taylor and Gannon (2018), of Gale and Wyatt (2021) and of Barad (2007), we play with the idea of conferencing as a collaborative space, where the individual position get lost in among a diffractive multiplicity of voices. At the centre of our playfulness will be writing as a creative and disruptive practice that destabilises traditional, fixed academic structures in favour of rhizomatic and multiple experiences where the poetic and the playful replaces the objective and the quantifiable (Richardson and St.Pierre (2005). We will therefore collectively explore how bio-digital collaborative writing can bring new materialities into and out of the conference space, how it can repair relations and expand communities by inviting others’ experiences and contributions into the conference space and allowing the ideas from the conference to reach out to others. In creating such a blurring of the conference space, we hope to collaboratively co-create caring spaces in and through writing that help us ‘push back against’ precarity, exclusion, monetization and towards collectivity, care and empowerment.

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