A poetic excursion into the past and a critical engagement with the quotidian and the bodily is the most visible theme of this issue of Departures in Critical Qualitative Research (DCQR). We are delighted to open with “Sophisticated Prayer,” a poem by Robin Brandehoff that takes us into the life of Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, an African American woman who was denied admission in the law program at the University of Oklahoma. Brandehoff discovered Fisher's story in an essay she read. Finding herself emotionally struck and inspired by the story, she accesses the poetic to engage the subject. In poetically imagining Fisher's travails, Brandehoff confers dignity not only to Fisher's life, but also to the lives of women of color who enter the walls of academe, walls that were built to exclude and marginalize, not accommodate and welcome, their selfhood.
In the essay that follows, Shanna K. Kattari and Ramona Beltran combine the personal with the political in an auto-archaeological multivoiced piece that draws upon photos and poetry as artifacts from the past and Kattari's lived experience to interrogate complex intersections of disability, gender, and queerness. Entitled “Twice Blessed,” the essay troubles the “binaries we impose on others; queer or not, disabled or not, like us or not.” In telling these stories, the authors push us to think outside the box of categorically fixed identities and thereby open ourselves to new imaginaries on how we might live in this world.
Our next essay—Joy Cox, Bernadette M. Gailliar, and Shardé M. Davis's “Transformation or Assimilation?”—takes us into a critical ethnography of pro- and anti-fat discourses at Full Figured Fashion Week (FFFWeek). Instead of a space that would be univocally representative and encompassing of full-figured bodies, the ethnographers showcase, via thoughtful analysis of their fieldwork, “how the complicated context of fashion and fatness created organizational tensions that manifested in the organizing processes of FFFWeek.” The authors critically interpret how FFFWeek organizers made decisions to deem bodies acceptable or not, thereby determining which type of body could be “exploited for gain.” The essay successfully demonstrates the “pervasiveness of capitalism and consumerism during the event” that is in contradiction to FFFWeek's commitment to producing a new kind of body imaginary in which “fatness” is celebrated.
As part of my editorial vision for DCQR, I proposed a twice-yearly forum, Critical Interventions (CI). My goal for these is to dedicate a portion of alternating issues to conversations about innovative ideas, novel experiences, performative writing, and other creative strategies in fieldwork. In January 2019, Jillian Ann Tullis graciously accepted the role of CI Editor. Over the past several months, she has worked with Stacy Holman Jones to curate the inaugural CI forum: “Ordinary Objects, or the Importance of Making Implicit Things Matter.” In Holman Jones's own words, “This collection presents a series of performative writing experiments that explore ordinary objects from the windows opened by theory, including new materialist, posthuman, and affect-oriented approaches.” Six experimental and performative pieces take us into the “liveliness and vibrancy of seemingly ‘inert’ matter—books, double-sided tape, lightbulbs, plastic animals, rain, paper, and the water, sand, and salt of a shoreline coming together.” In short, these essays cajole us to look around us, to touch, to feel, and to hear objects as more than just things. Instead, we are pushed to attend to “the productive relations among objects and subjects as an entanglement of matter and meaning.” Things, as the cliché goes, are not always what they seem. They are always more.