I often write

down the page

where the same

(socially constructed)

rules do not

apply. Saying things that are (were) difficult to speak in prose.

space opening...(opening space) for researching and writing with animate Earth as a legitimate and often literal knowledge-making partner. Engaging in this process requires a shift in consciousness, and extending ontological boundaries kept intact by Western language, worldviews, and lifestyles. At the same time it has meant being vulnerable to those in power who suggest this extension is not possible.


I have learned that we need to ask questions about what we have not thought to think, about what is most densely invested in our discourses and practice, and about what has been muted or repressed and gone unheard in representations of our practice (Lotz-Sisitka, 2002, p. 118).

"[A]cademe must be made to comment on itself directly" (Ellsworth, 1997, p. 268) and "one form of knowing can be used to trouble another" (Davies, 2000b, p. 169)....

Perhaps what we need to learn is not only how to think critically, as Scott and Gough (2003) suggest, but also how to perceive differently (Bai, 2009).

This research is my best attempt to (re)imagine and perhaps (re)construct a new/old language which assists the reader to engage in conversations where the actors are not all human (Haraway, 2004a). The final form and content of this research is based on the epistemological and ontological assumptions that the earth is animate and communicates with humans in many different ways. Like any communication, interpretation and explanation, it is always both culturally and individually mediated.

In many instances, this research has been a journey of travel upstream, against the current, travelling from eddy to eddy, trying to find the places where meanings flow and speaking felt at least somewhat safe. Rules and assumptions about what counts as legitimate knowledge and academic research/representation have worked together with dominant cultural narratives housed within my own body, university, and past life contexts to constrain my desire to be a more porous ecological being. Many of these narratives are changing, however, and with the support of Aboriginal colleagues and community members, as well as much of the discussions happening in the context of decolonizing, arts-based, and trans-personal research methodologies, I grow more comfortable speaking about ways of knowing that come from far beyond the rational mind (see Barrett, 2009).

Researching (and subsequently, reading) with non-human Others, has required learning non-linear languages, and letting go of socially inscribed assumptions about what reading , research, and 'texts' should look like.

The privileging of the human intellect and silence surrounding the possible contributions of animate Earth to research reinscribes the hierarchical separation between humans and animate Earth. This silence also works to reinscribe assumptions that Earth does not speak.

As Scott (1988) suggests, these struggles are all contextually specific.

"In what specific contexts, among which specific communities of people, and by what textual and social processes has meaning been acquired?" (p. 35).

And how do meanings change? Speaking and writing is one way. Education is another.

© Mary Jeanne (M.J.) Barrett, 2009
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All Songs and Lyrics Copyrighted to Carolyn McDade Unless Otherwise Noted