Reanimating Data publications

Rachel Thomson (2020) “Too Much Too Young? Revisiting Young Motherhood”, Studies in the Maternal 13(1), 11. doi:

Abstract: Part of a 10 year Anniversary issue, this short paper reflects on a 30 year period in the UK where young motherhood moves from being a respectable working class practice into the ‘problem’ of teenage pregnancy, subsequently ‘solved’ and replaced by new categories of concern. Working with her own field notes generated as part of a sociological study of teenage sexuality carried out in Manchester in 1989, the author engages with awkwardness and resistance in the texts and reflects on the ambivalent place of motherhood in the feminist narratives of empowerment that shaped the enquiry.

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Niamh Moore, Nikki Dunne, Martina Karels & Mary Hanlon (2021) Towards an Inventive Ethics of Carefull Risk: Unsettling Research Through DIY Academic Archiving, Australian Feminist Studies, 36:108, 180-199, DOI: 10.1080/08164649.2021.2018991

Abstract: In this article, we call for an inventive ethics of care-full risk for qualitative research. While methodological experimentation is widely welcomed across the social sciences, there is little talk of innovation in ethical principles and practice. We argue that research ethics is an ‘invented tradition’ (Hobsbawm 2012), which has become unquestioned convention. We take up the archiving and reuse of qualitative research data as a challenging, yet compelling, site of methodological innovation, where ethical considerations often appear as an insurmountable barrier. Ethical concerns about informed consent and anonymity, given unknown future use of data, and commitments to destroying data to protect research participants, appear undone by calls to share data. We take up the work of community archives, feminist and queer archivists and archival theory, as generative sites for developing an archival imaginary for researchers. We recount how we came to unsettle ethical practice through creating a ‘DIY academic archive’, a digital open access research archive, Clayoquot Lives: An Ecofeminist Story Web ( Against a paternalistic research culture of risk avoidance, we argue that care always involves risk. An inventive feminist ethic of care-full risk can resource new ethical research, reimagining research by embracing the risk of caring for data.

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Niamh Moore, Rachel Thomson, & Ester McGeeney (2023) ‘Putting place back into the patriarchy through rematriating feminist research: The WRAP project, Feminist webs and Reanimating Data’. In Julie McLeod, Kate O’Connor, Nicole Davis, Amy McKernan (eds)Temporality, Space and Place in Education and Youth ResearchLocal/Global Issues in Education Series (Routledge, 2023).

This chapter takes up the invitation (McLeod 2017) to explore questions of time and temporality, not only as objects of research, but, also, as central to how research is done – with the implication that this has a profound implication for how the research happens and what account of the world it produces. It reflects on a project that involves young people and educators in youth clubs, universities and community centres participating as co-researchers in exploring sex, gender, sexuality and social change. The discussion centres on a project that brings interviews from a 1988–1989 feminist social science study back to a network of feminist youth workers, using participatory archival practices, to a northern city in the UK, Manchester. The chapter involves an exploration of what it means to ‘rematriate’ interviews with young women about sexual health, returning them to the city in which they were generated 30 years previously. The project requires an engagement with the awkward knowledge generated through revisiting earlier research now, reflecting on what it might mean to create an open archive and how researchers might put ‘place’ back into feminist analyses that were coined 30 years ago.

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Rachel Thomson, Rachael Owens, Peter Redman & Rebecca Webb (2023) A Sad Story? Time, Interpretation and Feeling in Biographical Methods, Child Care in Practice, 29:3, 260-277, DOI: 10.1080/13575279.2022.2153105

What do we do with emotion in biographical research: is it an end in itself, a symptom to be explained, a thread to be pulled? This paper presents an experiment in methodology within a field of biographical methods that involved revisiting a single qualitative interview after the elapse of thirty years. The interview with 22 year old Stacey was troubling at the time it was generated (as captured in fieldnotes and interview transcript) and was still troubling when these documents were reprised. Naming sadness as an emotion at play in the material took teamwork and emotionally engaged methods of analysis and interpretation. Working with psychoanalytically informed theories we show how a curiosity about emotion and a willingness to follow feelings can help connect individual stories to collective histories. The paper presents group based analyses and writing methods as a way of tracing the psychic logics of story through scenic material (what we call ‘emotional bombshells’). We consider the difference that time might make to an analysis, considering the possibility that more time might produce more perspective through allowing the original context to be rendered (more) visible. We also suggest that clock time can be transcended when considering unconscious processes and experiences that resist narrative. Recontextualising research materials can enrich meaning and further realise the value of qualitative interviews that always contain more to be heard, resituated in new times and relationships. This is not simply an exercise in nostalgia but is offered as a method in its own right, reanimation as a route to the generation of new intergenerational knowledge of a thick present in which past, present and future co-exist.

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Rosie Gahnstrom, Lucy Robinson & Rachel Thomson. (forthcoming) Is Sex Good For You?: Risk, Reward and Responsibility for Young Women in the Late 1980s, in Tracey Loughran, Hannah Froom, Kate Mahoney and Daisy Payling (eds)   Everyday Health, Embodiment, and Selfhood since 1950, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

The late 1980s can be understood as a moment when it became possible for young women to imagine sex without marriage, love and commitment. Contraception was freely available, educational opportunities were opening up and popular culture was replete with representations of a new kind of pleasure seeking girl. Yet this was also a moment of new sexual dangers with HIV/ AIDS focusing attention on body fluids and redefining passionate fumblings in terms of safer sexual practices. In this paper we draw on the newly archived Women, Risk and AIDS project (WRAP) – a set of 150 interviews conducted with young women aged between 16-21 in London and Manchester. In the paper we focus on the Manchester interviews and survey the uneven ways that sex was imagined by young women at this conjuncture, focusing on how risk, reward, pleasure and health are in play (or not). We ask what it means to reimagine sex as part of a project of health and self care, noting the importance of the time of a willingness to talk about sex as a precursor to sexual health – something that arguably placed responsibility on the shuldders of young women to deliver sexual safety and social mobility. Our approach also places the WRAP study itself into the frame, asking questions about how the feminist sociology of the 1980s contributed to a framing of sexual health in which women’s pleasure was prioritised and the idea of a feminist protagonist characterised by the capacity to choose was mobilised . The research is part of an ESRC funded project Reanimating data: experiments with people, places and archives.