Professional practices and the materiality of knowing and making biodiversity in the Black Forest
Ronja Mikoleit (University Freiburg)
Paper short abstract:
How can we methodologically engage with the materiality of knowledge, performed by bodies, dealing artefacts and natural elements? I approach this question by focusing on the shaping of biodiversity through professional knowledge practices and multiple intra-actions in the forest.
Paper long abstract:
How is biodiversity being shaped by multiple intra-actions in the forest? What knowledge practices are linked to the social worlds of forest biodiversity research on the one hand, and on-the-ground forestry practice on the other? I deal with these questions through 'observatory participation' with foresters and forest biodiversity researchers in the Black Forest, Germany. I proceed from the idea that the larger share of (expert) knowledge, including my own, is rather experimental and non-reflexive, performed by our bodies dealing with artefacts/instruments and natural elements. Thus, I juggle with translating bodily impressions into scientific communication by analyzing the research situation itself. Since affects play an important role in motivating practices, directing attention and developing sensibilities for identifying relevant differences, I understand my researcher's body as a "personal recording apparatus" (Hirschauer/Amann 1997), which witnesses and shapes sensory styles of knowing the environment. Being part of an interdisciplinary research training group of 12 PhD students from different environmental disciplines, in my own daily work, whether in my shared office, or in meetings, lunchbreaks, field visits and the like I can't help but observing and contributing to boundary making processes, which continue to shift definitions of my field and my focus of attention in the ethnographic data production process. Through sliding back and forth on the continuum of being an insider and outsider in different situations, the construction of my research subject is continuously re-shaped. My understanding of relevant data is defined by shifting researcher positions, which become my focus of attention.
Methodography of data practices in STS's ethnographic collaboration and participant observation