Welcome to The Avalon Research Society!
Updated: Sep 23, 2022
Academia is a strange world. We embrace a rhetoric of collegiality, when oftentimes we instead reward competitiveness or a career-orientation. Resistance, however, is always there! My hope is that the ARS becomes a place where we embrace the practice of collegiality, of participating in intellectually-stimulating environments, while not taking ourselves too seriously.
My vision of the ARS is as a nexus for two important things: resources and community. We are collecting a bibliography of space, place, and time. This project is in its infancy, and if you have any beloved articles or books you’d like to see included, please drop us a line. You might include a line or two about your favourite idea or the reason why you love that work. Meanwhile, my hope is that this will grow into a place where students and scholars alike can find interesting sources to read and, especially, to think about.
As a community, we tend towards qualitative research, but all are welcome and various methods can complement each other. We also welcome interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work. We will host workshops, some hybrid, some virtual, and some in-person. We hope to maintain regular blog posts from scholars who have some element of the study of space, place, and/or time in their work. I look forward to getting to know more people in this area. The ARS will start by focussing on the North Atlantic region and gradually expand outwards.
You may notice our URL include the phrase “a space for place.” With permission from Dr. Thomas Gieryn, we honour his seminal article “A Space for Place in Sociology.” ¹ When I was doing my PhD at Northwestern, I ran a somewhat-underground space and place reading group. We called this piece “the gift that keeps on giving.” Both before and after Dr. Gieryn’s article, however, there is a rich literature for us to draw upon. Scholars from marginalized groups have a brilliant place in this literature and I encourage everyone to contribute to drawing out their work, in particular.
I could offer a myriad of platitudes about the importance of place and time in our everyday lives, but the long and the short of it is; when we stretch our thinking to include these dimensions of social life, we expand our ability to analyze what’s going on in people’s worlds. In addition, orienting our work to include considerations of place and time helps us adopt an in situ perspective which is compatible with feminist standpoint theory, on-the-ground intersectionality, and Indigenous methods. We can upend hierarchies of credibility!² We can seize a vision of the world from the clutches of colonialism, bureaucracy, imperialism, and corporatism by ensuring our sociological imaginations account for place and time. At the macro-level, this can involve charting our socio-historical contingencies. At the micro-level, we can imagine that any time we experience spatial or temporal discomfort, some power dynamic is in play. What is it? What’s going on?
That is, in the end, our main intellectual question here: what is going on?
¹Gieryn, Thomas F. 2000. “A Space for Place in Sociology.” Annual Review of Sociology. 26:463-496.
²“Hierarchies of credibility” refer to the ways in which we privilege certain voices over others. For example, we might consider doctors the experts, but when it comes knowledge about one’s lived experience, the patient is actually the more credible expert. Becker, Howard S. 1967. "Whose Side Are We On?" Social Problems. 14 (3): 239-247.