Postcard from the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, 2019

Last weekend I attended the 15th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The theme of this year’s conference was Qualitative Inquiry in Repressive Times. With activities scheduled from Wednesday morning to Saturday evening – as has become expected, there is something for everyone, including a day in Spanish and Portuguese, a day for researchers in social work; as well as special interest groups and forums for arts-based research, autoethnography, qualitative psychology, critical qualitative inquiry, qualitative health research, critical Chinese qualitative research, digital tools and the indigenous inquiries circle. The conference program reported that this year there were 1600 presentations from over 2000 attendees, making this conference the largest of its kind in the world.

With 42 workshops scheduled for Thursday examining a broad range of topics, including qualitative methods such as interviewing and focus groups, approaches to data analysis including coding, discourse analysis, and situational analysis, an array of theoretical approaches to qualitative inquiry, and writing and publishing, this year’s ICQI continued the tradition of providing a “big tent” (Denzin, 2010) for scholars using all manner of approaches to qualitative inquiry. The welcome ceremony on Thursday evening presented a standing-room-only audience with two keynote addresses. Elizabeth St.Pierre (University of Georgia) spoke on Post Qualitative Inquiry, the Refusal of Method, and the Risk of the New; and Aitor Gomez (Universitat Rovira i Virgili) discussed Science with and for society through qualitative inquiry. And in between all of these events, conference delegates made time to meet up with friends and colleagues in meeting rooms and hallways, and over coffee and meals. In the publisher’s exhibit, representatives were kept busy meeting with qualitative researchers eager to pitch their latest ideas for book projects. This year, the ICQI awards ceremony was moved to Friday at midday, with Patrick Lewis as master of ceremonies. Members of the Indigenous Inquiry Circle involved all those in attendance in singing and dancing to celebrate and honor all the recipients of the awards. This was a joyful ceremony, and if you missed it this year, be sure to put it on your calendar for next year’s conference.

Once again, I left ICQI with much to think about in relation to my own research, writing, and teaching. I’ve also been thinking about how the conference has grown and transformed since the very first conference that I attended in 2005. There is no doubt that the immense growth in the number of books, handbooks, and journals devoted to qualitative research that are now available is in no small part due to conversations among qualitative researchers that began at this conference. May those conversations continue!

As one conference participant among many, I would especially like to pay tribute to Dr. Norman K. Denzin, who founded ICQI, and all the workers and volunteers who contribute to conference organization throughout the year. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Kathy Roulston


Denzin, N. K. (2010). The qualitative manifesto: A call to arms. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

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