dialogic method(ology)

the dialogic methods and methodology for this dissertation emerged as I simultaneously began to notice ways in which the privileged position of the intellect was constantly reinscribed in academic discourse, and began letting go of that positioning in ways that enabled listening to Earth and comprehending, and following insights that came through my increasingly re-animated perception.

Re-animated (embodied) perception (Bai, 2009), and a dialogic method(ology), can be engaged through attending to insights from beyond conceptual reasoned consciousness. This is often described as requiring a shift in one's vibrational level, and occurs most often when in a state of non-thinking, meditative awareness. Accessing this state of awareness is supported by a dialogic interplay with more-than-human persons, and is based on the assumption that such persons are "volitional, relational, cultural and social beings" (Harvey 2006a, p. xvii). This kind of awareness is familiar to many, yet given the privileged place of the intellect in Western knowledge-making practices, it is frequently left unnoticed or unnamed, and as such, has become (remained) invisible. Methods are described more fully in the methodology section.

Engaging with a dialogic* method(ology), requires attending to messages received as visual images, dreams, a felt sense, a feeling, serendipitous events, a sense of being drawn to pick up a particular book, go a particular place, or as words that pop into one’s head.  Some messages are metaphoric and require significant interpretation (similar to all research data) while others are more literal (Harvey, 2003; Harner & Doore, 1987; Smith, 2006; see also, Bell, 2003). All are highly contextual, and meanings are dependent upon locally available discourses. Many of these ways of knowing are normalized among Aboriginal Peoples, but have been discounted or gone underground in Western cultural contexts (see Harvey, 2006a).

Understood within an animist ontology, a dialogic method(ology) deliberately and explicitly engages with the energies and intelligence of plants, animals and/or spirit in the production of knowledge, and in my experience, both demands and develops a deep sense of respect for the wisdom embedded in both human and more-than-human worlds.

A dialogic method(ology), which emphasizes listening as much as thinking, may just provide the "cracks in consent" (marino, 1997, p. 17) necessary to access the different ways of knowing (epistemologies) and being (ontologies) so often called for by environmental educators.

*I give credit to Plumwood (2002) for my first encounter with the word dialogic (although I use it in a somewhat different way than she does). Bakhtin (1981) is most often credited with use of the word in reference to the notion that all language and thought exists in relation to other thoughts and literatures before, and in some cases, after it (see in particular, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays). It is also used by Graham Harvey (2006a).