ICQI 2020 Book awards

Sadly, the annual meeting of the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If not for COVID-19, many of us would be meeting this week at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to share our work in qualitative research. In this absence, please join me in congratulating recipients of the Qualitative Book Award (see below); Outstanding Dissertation Awards (posted tomorrow); and the Lifetime Achievement and Special Career Awards (Saturday). I want to especially thank Dr. James Salvo and Dr. Norman Denzin for sharing the reports with QualPage. Please join me in celebrating these scholars’ work…

With other members of the Qualitative Book Award committee, Ron Pelias and Pat Sikes, I was privileged to review 19 nominations for the 2020 ICQI book award. The Qualitative Book award recognizes books that make a major contribution to the study and practice of qualitative approaches through success in experimenting with new or traditional writing forms, the inclusion of critical reflections on the writing and research process, contributions to living meaningful lives, and insights into creating a socially just world. As in past years, the task to select winners for the award was difficult, since we received many wonderful books for review.

Honorable mentions are awarded to three books.

Holman Jones, S., & Harris, A. M. (2019). Queering autoethnography. New York & London: Routledge.

In their book Queering autoethnography, Stacy Holman Jones and Anne M. Harris expand the range of autoethnographic practice and purposefully disrupt “taken-for-granted knowledges that continue to marginalize, oppress and/or take advantage of those ….who do not participate or find ourselves reflected in mainstream cultures and social structures – which includes research methodologies'” (p. 4). Employing contemporary flashpoints, including queer memorializing and mourning, and digital and cultural transformations of queer lives and bodies, among others, the authors are committed to writing for those who have been “forgotten, lost, left behind, unacknowledged, hurt or silenced, or worse” (p. 9). This book eloquently carves out ethical space on behalf of queer presence in these oppressive times. Weaving the theoretical and the personal together with sensitivity, it speaks from a place of affect and taps into an empathic passion in a way that engages and moves readers from the first to final page. This text explores the theoretical and practical possibilities offered by a queer approach to autoethnography.

Kuntz, A. M. (2019). Qualitative inquiry, cartography, and the promise of material change. London & New York: Routledge.

“What are the problems to which materialist methodologies are posed as a solution?” This is the question addressed by Aaron Kuntz’s accessible book on materiality, Qualitative inquiry, cartography, and the promise of material change. Arguing that in the contemporary moment “newly radical formations of democratic citizenship are needed” (p. 1), Kuntz explores questions to do with what and how we inquire, as well as the effects of inquiry. This book offers a compelling case, articulated with clarity and acuity, for a research practice located in a relational materialism that gives rise to a “virtuous inquiry,” one that calls upon researchers to engage in an ongoing ethical process of becoming. His enticing argument teaches us how to embrace an alternative mode of being as we go about our work. Kuntz’s book represents an unequivocal commitment to research that seeks to make a difference, to contest contemporary challenges to social injustice, and to privilege ethical practice. There are alternatives to the neoliberal agenda and in this book, Aaron Kuntz provides illustrations of a way forward.

Richardson, L. (2019). Lone twin: A true story of loss and found. Leiden & Boston: Brill Sense.

Laurel Richardson’s Lone Twin is a book about human connection and the joys and weights that pull on a life, sometimes without one’s full consciousness of why. This book reads like a sociological case study, a memoir, a family history, and an intriguing mystery, but most of all, as an object lesson of what matters in our personal lives. From the beginning, readers will find themselves caught up in this beautifully rendered world. By the book’s end, they will feel privileged to have met the people who populate this world and will be transported to the entanglements of their own relationships. Laurel Richardson’s writing is lyrical, beautiful, compelling, and provocative. This book provides an example of integrative work – it’s profoundly scholarly, creative, literary, historically and sociologically grounded, ethical, and so much more. There is so much to learn from what Laurel Richardson has to say.

The winner of the 2020 Qualitative Book Award was awarded to:

Wyatt, J. (2019). Therapy, stand-up, and the gesture of writing. New York & London: Routledge.

There are surprises in store for those who read Jonathan Wyatt’s book, Therapy, Stand-Up, and the Gesture of Writing. This book about the unfolding and enfolding of therapy, stand-up and writing, wrote one of the reviewers, “comes to me like a compelling poem.” Although the book teaches readers a great deal about therapy, stand-up and writing, it also provides deep insights into thinking and feeling in the ongoing process of becoming. This book is a poetic gift to readers and the field of qualitative inquiry.  Its gentle rhythms find their own form. Its language surrounds, seduces. Its “creative-relational inquiry,” to use Wyatt’s rich term, opens new ways of moving through the world. Panel members were in unanimous agreement that Jonathon Wyatt’s book is a brilliant and original example of reflective and reflexive writing that prompts readers to think about their own attitudes and practices in daily life. This book will show both neophyte and experienced autoethnographers what quality work looks like.

Congratulations to all of these authors!

Kathy Roulston (chair)

The ICQI 2020 Book Award Committee


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