What better way to welcome the new year with a postcard from a qualitative conference? For those of us who have visited Fort Lauderdale in sunny southern Florida, we missed traveling to an in-person conference in January. On the other hand, because the conference was virtual for the 2nd year, it enabled over 1,000 eager researchers the ability to share their qualitative studies and methodological insights. What a plus!
Held from 19-21st January, 2022 online, the 13th TQR conference, as in previous years, provided a warm and welcoming space for scholars —from novice to veteran and from all over the world—to discuss qualitative research. With a keynote address each morning, and a closing keynote address delivered by conference organizers, the TQR conference provided something for everyone.
The theme this year was Research “For a Change”: Time to Evoke, Provoke, and Invoke. The keynote presenters did a lovely job of attending to the conference theme. First, Dr. Norma Romm, from the University of South Africa addressed “Co-responsible relational research practice.” Her presentation challenged researchers to think about how they can work with participants and communities in relational ways that take caring for and creating the world as a mutual responsibility. How can we as researchers conduct studies that pursue the public good? The second keynote was given by emeritus professor, Dr. Donna Mertens, who talked about “Transformative qualitatively driven mixed methods: For a change.” Dr. Mertens explained her “anti-paradigm war” approach to mixed methods research. Both Dr. Romm and Dr. Mertens provided numerous references to Indigenous scholars (e.g., Shawn Wilson, Bagele Chilisa, Fiona Cram, Margaret Kovach, Linda Smith) who are contributing ways to think about transformative paradigms for research that aim for decolonization and repatriation for Indigenous peoples. Dr. Mertens ended her talk by referring to a recently published article to do with the decolonizing of global health (Büyüm et al., 2020) – underscoring the urgent need, during the current global pandemic in which vaccination programs have been unevenly implemented in different parts of the world, to take seriously our responsibility to involve ourselves in forwarding this work. On the final day of the conference, Dr. Aaron Kuntz (Florida International University) gave a talk entitled, “Standing vigil while weary/wary: Ethical inquiry enacted for material change.” Dr. Kuntz artfully explored how qualitative scholars can reconceptualize inquiry in ways that both disrupt the status quo and act as interventions. Posing questions that help us think about inquiry methods (“How does this inquiry enact a particular ethical stance?” “What values inform the inquiry project and how do they align with inquiry goals?” and “What changes does this inquiry effect?”), Dr. Kuntz’s presentation was philosophical while encouraging researchers to act in ethically responsible ways. Dr. Kuntz presented too many ideas to present accurately in a short blogpost – which is why I am looking forward to reading the next book he is currently working on (and tentatively titled, “Just inquiry” — look out for this!). The Q&A sessions in the keynote presentations and other sessions provided wonderful opportunities for audience members to talk more with presenters about topics of interest.
As always, I found it hard to choose which session to go, since there were numerous presentations relative to my daily work as a teacher of qualitative research, as well as “power lunches” that featured a range of qualitative data analysis software. Conference organization is a massive effort, and credit goes to Dr. Ron Chenail for continuing to lead this conference on top of his significant administrative responsibilities, Adam Rosenthal for another superb job of conference organization, and Sally St. George and Dan Wulff for their work on conference planning. And let’s not forget all of the moderators who ensured that presenters stayed within time constraints, as well as navigating the synchronous meeting rooms. The qualitative community thanks you!
Büyüm, A. M., Kenney, C., Koris, A., Mkumba, L., & Raveendran, Y. (2020). Decolonising global health: If not now, when? British Medical Journal Global Health, 5(8), e003394. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-003394