Accepted Paper:

Touch as ethico-onto-epistemology   


Eva Svedmark (Umeå University)

Paper short abstract:

Strongly influenced by feminist technoscience this paper suggests touch as method in a ethico-onto-epistemology taken seriously. Using empirical cases of emotional dirt and digital life narratives touch - as method - turns out to lead the way for a new critical understanding of our posthuman becoming.

Paper long abstract:

"Dirt is matter out of place" Douglas stated (1966), pointing out how meaning and matter always are entangled in systems of culture, politics and ethics. This paper builds on a 5-year ethnographic study of digital dirt (matter out of place), focusing on the growing practice of self-disclosure online. My compass has been set on norm-breaking material in the search for unknown diffraction patterns (Barad 2008, 2011; Haraway, 1997) reveling posthuman entanglements and systems of desire.

By swimming in the phenomenon of online sharing I have not only dipped my toes in a sea of a heartbreaking material, I have also become one with the phenomenon per se, submerged in silent participation in the construction of materialized emotions and bodies. Touch is physical, marking the matters involved, re-shaping our relational bonds in new becomings, new knowings and new futures (Barad 2008, 2012).

By putting myself in touch I´ve become entangled in the meaning and matter of the phenomenon I´ve studied by feeling, not just reflecting - and by hurting before healing. Figurations, re-figurations and entangled diffraction patterns can only be understood from this kind of movements within. Touch I claim, offers knowledge that exceeds reflexivity and moves far beyond the already known. Touch as method in ethico-onto-epistemology offers a posthuman ethics, taking responsibility for the knowledge produced and the future to come (Barad 2012).

Panel T014
Considering the performativity of our own research practices