Disrupting Qualitative Inquiry

Possibilities and Tensions in Educational Research

by Ruth Nicole Brown (Volume editor) Rozana Carducci (Volume editor) Candace R. Kuby (Volume editor)
©2014 Textbook XVI, 289 Pages
Series: Critical Qualitative Research, Volume 10


Disrupting Qualitative Inquiry is an edited volume that examines the possibilities and tensions encountered by scholars who adopt disruptive qualitative approaches to the study of educational contexts, issues, and phenomena. It presents a collection of innovative and intellectually stimulating chapters which illustrate the potential for disruptive qualitative research perspectives to advance social justice aims omnipresent in educational policy and practice dialogues. The book defines «disruptive» qualitative methodologies and methods in educational research as processes of inquiry which seek to:
1) Disrupt traditional notions of research roles and relationships
2) Disrupt dominant approaches to the collection and analysis of data
3) Disrupt traditional notions of representing and disseminating research findings
4) Disrupt rigid epistemological and methodological boundaries
5) Disrupt disciplinarily boundaries and assumptive frameworks of how to do educational research
Scholars and graduate students interested in disrupting traditional approaches to the study of education will find this book of tremendous value. Given the inclusion of both research examples and reflective narratives, this book is an ideal text for adoption in introductory research design seminars as well as advanced courses devoted to theoretical and practical applications of qualitative and interpretive methodologies.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Praise for Disrupting Qualitative Inquiry
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Dedications
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Section 1: Doing Disruptive Qualitative Inquiry: Methodologies, Politics, and Practices
  • Chapter One: “She Came at Me Wreckless!” Wreckless Theatrics as Disruptive Methodology
  • Chapter Two: Reports of Illegal Activities by Research Participants: Meaning-Making Through Reflexivity, Dis-Order, and Mexican-American Studies
  • Chapter Three: Promiscuous Methodology: Breaching the Limits of Theory and Practice for a Social Science We Can Live With
  • Chapter Four: CRiT Walking for Disruption of Educational Master Narratives
  • Chapter Five: Always Already Inquiry: A/r/tography as a Disruptive Methodology
  • Chapter Six: Crystallization as a Methodology: Disrupting Traditional Ways of Analyzing and (Re)presenting Through Multiple Genres
  • Chapter Seven: Beyond Scientific “Facts”: Choosing to Honor and Make Visible a Variety of Knowledge Systems
  • Chapter Eight: “Bringing a Little Bit of Heaven to Humanity”: Raising Hell While Interrupting Traditional Methods for the Purpose of Justice
  • Chapter Nine: Picture This: Using Photography to Tell a Black Girl’s Truth
  • Section 2: Living it Out: Disrupting Politics and Practices in the Academy
  • Chapter Ten: Identity as Inquiry: Living and Researching From the Borderlands
  • Chapter Eleven: Advancing Disruptive Methodological Perspectives in Educational Qualitative Research Through Teaching and Learning
  • Chapter Twelve: Disrupting the Dissertation, Phenomenologically Speaking: A Reflexive Dialogue Between Advisor-Advisee
  • Chapter Thirteen: Methodological Freedom: A Journey
  • Contributing Authors
  • Index
  • Series index

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To my parents, Lawrence and Evelyn Brown, for making a way when there was not one and expecting me to do the same for those I love.—Ruth Nicole Brown

To Melissa Contreras-McGavin, a dear friend whose courage and conviction serve as constant sources of inspiration and motivation. Thank you for helping me realize the power, possibility, and necessity of disrupting educational organizations.—Rozana Carducci

To Nick, who inspires and supports me in living-out disruptively.—Candace Kuby

And collectively we dedicate this book to all those who seek to live as disruptive scholars and educators, and work for social change and justice.

| ix →


List OF Figures

Figure 1.1: B/F/F Note

Figure 5.1: Cells as Perverse Breach

Figure 5.2: Stuff

Figure 6.1: Crystallization Research Design

Figure 9.1: Picture This!

Figure 9.2: Standing in the Path of Black Women’s Self-Determination

Figure 13.1: Untitled Self-Portrait, 2013

| xi →



Disruption and I go way back. Mariama Sesay and Tiffany Davis have been my best friends since forever, and together we became skilled in rule-breaking and resistance. I received superior training in positivist, interpretivist, and arts-based methods from masters of their craft, including political scientist/methodologist Martha Feldman, political scientist/organizer Greg Markus, filmmaker Carol Jacobsen, anthropologist Ruth Behar, playwright OyamO, director Glenda Dickerson, and drama professor Mbala Soka Di Nkanga. Charlie Vanover and I took many courses together, and it’s been an honor to remain friends and colleagues as we continue to write and perform our research. I am thankful to those who give me support and mentorship, Chantal Nadeau, Siobhan Somerville, Yoon Pak, Adrienne Dixson, Mary Weems, James Anderson, and Chris Span. I would not be able to bare the cost of doing disruptive methods if it were not for my colleagues and friends, Christina DeNicolo, Aisha Durham, Melynda Price, Mimi Nguyen, Fiona Ngô, Dustin Allred, Soo Ah Kwon, Lisa Cacho, David Coyoca, Isabel Molina-Guzmán, Ian Sprandel, Steve Hocker, Zenzele Isoke, Karen Flynn, Will Mitchell, Bettina Love, Roxana Marachi, Michelle Tellez, Dorian Warren, Ferentz LaFargue, Robin Hayes, Amy Cabrera Rasmussen, and K. Nicola Williams. I am full of gratitude for those who have done, continue to do, and will do SOLHOT! Chamara Kwayke and Candy Taaffe thank you for walking the talk with me. To every student who has taken my Revolutionary Acts course, thank you for breaking routine to engage fully disruptive inquiry. May the next level disruptors, Dominique C. Hill, Durell Callier, ← xi | xii → Dean Ivory Berry, CC Suarez, April Warren-Grice, Blair Smith, and Grenita Hall, have their say. Jessica Robinson and Porshe Garner thank you for being so critical to the resurrection. My your work extend the Black blues hip hop woman tradition, “revelations, bag lady …” Certainly, I will continue to innovate, because Getu delivers inspiration and stability, Maya Sanaa embodies creative genius, Addis reminds me how to be really willful, and Kaleb gives hugs and smiles that restore weariness. A very special thank you goes to Bryana French—your generosity inspires, and I’m deeply appreciative for all that you do, especially for inviting me to perform at the University of Missouri and introducing me to my co-authors. Candace and Rozana, this has been such an intellectually fun, rewarding, and generative project. I’m so glad to have shared this experience with you, and I look forward to continued collaborations!

—Ruth Nicole

Peter Magolda, professor of Student Affairs in Higher Education at Miami University, played an important role in nurturing my fascination with and passion for qualitative inquiry. In addition to helping me understand the difference between methodology and method, Peter’s cultural inquiry courses opened my eyes to a new way of seeing, studying, and practicing higher education. I am a better writer and thinker for knowing Peter, and I will be forever grateful for the gifts of his wisdom, mentorship, and expert editing skills. Penny A. Pasque, Aaron M. Kuntz, and Ryan E. Gildersleeve provided excellent company on my initial explorations of disruptive inquiry. Frustrated with the narrow conceptualizations of qualitative research advanced in our doctoral programs and the field of higher education, Penny, Aaron, Ryan, and I engaged in a series of disruptive methodological dialogues that spanned seven years, significantly shaping my perspectives on the nature, aims, and possibilities of educational research. I dedicated my contribution to this book to my dear friend and colleague Melissa Contreras-McGavin. To put it simply, I am a better person for knowing and collaborating with Melissa, an exceptional mother, scholar, and friend who inspires me to live life to the fullest and reach my disruptive potential. Casandra Harper helped keep me sane during this editing project, reminding me to laugh and put life in perspective. The unconditional love and support of my husband and best friend, Seth, makes each day better than the last; I know I am lucky to have him as a partner. I would also like to thank my co-editors, Candace and Ruth Nicole, for their intellectual energy, patience, and grace during our collaborative endeavor. It has been a true joy to work with you.


Being disruptive is not always easy. In fact, usually it is met with resistance. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge those who have supported my work as a disruptive scholar. I believe that living disruptively is both a personal and ← xii | xiii → professional way of being. From a young age, my parents encouraged me, not necessarily with words, but in how they raised me to be independent as a woman. I was encouraged to color outside of the lines, literally and figuratively. Nick, my partner in life, has challenged me to disrupt normalized ways of being a woman, teacher, Christian, wife, and so forth. Professionally, when I think of one mentor scholar who modeled and encouraged me to disrupt, it is Barbara Dennis. While at Indiana University, her courses on feminist methodologies and narrative inquiry as well as conversations on critical theory and poststructuralism, fed my soul as a researcher and opened my eyes to endless possibilities. The readings and learning engagements in her courses gave me the space to think about the tensions and possibilities of disrupting qualitative inquiry. Thank you for teaching me what it means to research with people, not on people. Many thanks to each of you for encouraging me (whether or not you realized it) to disrupt. And finally, I remember sitting in a coffee shop with Rozana discussing the idea and vision for this book and then us meeting Ruth Nicole and thinking she was just the right match for a third editor. I learned so much from you both—thank you for sharing your beauty as humans, passion for justice and change, and savvy skills as editors. Thanks for making this journey so pleasurable.


The visioning, organizing, writing, and editing of this book have not happened in isolation. The three of us are grateful for the support we have received, not only in editing this book, but also in our lives beyond this project that led us to the point of collaboration.

Collectively, we are also grateful for the support and wisdom of Gaile Cannella, the series editor, and the editorial and production team at Peter Lang. We are thrilled that Teri Holbrook and Nicole Pourchier accepted our invitation to live out their artist/researcher/teacher identities in creating the art for the cover of the book. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the hard work and inspirational disruption of the scholars contributing chapters to this book. Individually and collectively these authors offer an exciting vision of methodological possibility, helping advance the disruptive potential of qualitative educational inquiry.

| xv →



As we are now well into the twenty-first century, a new generation of critical qualitative researchers have entered academia. As graduate students, most of these early career scholars have had the opportunity to work with older colleagues who have spent their careers practicing qualitative, feminist, poststructural, postcolonial, or other forms of research that have never been valued broadly in the academy either epistemologically or methodologically. This earlier generation dealt with faculties who were, most commonly, powerful senior-level white males, who believed in scientific truth and method. These faculty members, who were also predominately post-positivist and believers in inferential statistics/measurement, often dismissed and disrespected those who conducted qualitative research of any type. Further, the work of women and people of color has for the past 30 years often been treated with disdain and disregarded as if it were not legitimate, even when it did follow
traditional, post-positivist structures and practices. This earlier generation stood up literally every day of their careers for diversity in research, even arguing for basic introductory qualitative research courses, as well as for the acceptance of feminist, critical, and postcolonial dissertations. At this point, many books (and book series) have been constructed and published, as well as qualitative and critical scholarly journals that serve as outlets for scholarly work that literally did not exist for the first generation.

We are now at a moment in history in which scholars who would be qualitative, critical, disruptive, and transformative have a generation before them who ← xv | xvi → have attempted to change the academic environment, to open doors and opportunities that would center diversity, multiplicity, and issues of social/environmental justice. Further, calls for a critical social science have emanated from multiple locations for 20-plus years. However, the postpositivist power structure remains strong for a range of reasons. Faculty from some disciplines and academic institutions never accepted qualitative research in any form; in these locations, no coursework was offered, and no tenure has ever been granted for qualitative or critical work. Additionally, and more broadly, both obvious and veiled forms of backlash against the successes of qualitative research are now impacting life in academia, from patriarchal challenges to diverse perspectives such as feminism, to the construction of hegemonic discourses that co-opt and reinscribe such as mixed methods and evidence-based practices. Underlying all of this are both local and global neoliberalism that locks one into forms of governmentality through which all aspects of human functioning are interpreted as related to capital, as privileging production (e.g., test scores, audit culture, funding), and as entrepreneurial (e.g., research/teaching that produces capital).

The authors in this volume are dealing with these complexities: higher education that has opened doors to diverse qualitative forms of research; backlashes against much of this research as diverse ways of being have gained attention; an increasingly neoliberal, corporatized, managerial, and self-interested academic environment; and, the intellectual, emotional, and bodily struggles and pressures of being a critical researcher who wants to survive in, while transforming, a society (and institution) that has, despite the work of previous generation scholars,
remained patriarchal, oppressive, capitalist, and competitive. In different ways, the chapters in Disrupting Qualitative Inquiry: Possibilities & Tensions in Educational Research represent the complex struggles that we all face as critical qualitative research scholars, as researchers who hope to make changes that address injustices of all types. The reader is invited to interact with this text in multiple and diverse ways as the authors share their constructions of both disruptive inquiry and disruptive teaching.

Gaile S. Cannella, Series Editor
Critical Qualitative Research

| 1 →




The best method to use is the one that answers the research question. I was taught this as a graduate student and now, as a professor, I teach the same lesson to my students. It succinctly ends unproductive conversations about shopping for “methods” like one does for clothes. Should I go with what is trendy? Designer? Second-hand? Clearance? Which method will cost me less (time, stress, coursework), I am often asked? Methods are controversial; sometimes methods are rendered inconsequential, taught strictly within a disciplinary tradition, and/or chosen according to market demand. Some methods are stereotyped as threatening, and even if it is the best method for the question, students may resist because of what they’ve heard about a “qualitative” or “quantitative” project. Fear looms large, and it shows up in unexpected ways—even in conversations about methods.


As the opening reflection illustrates, decisions concerning the selection of research methodologies and methods remain a contested terrain, studded with assumptions, ideologies, and fears regarding the proper and/or most efficient way to conduct research. It is now acknowledged (at least by researchers anchored in critical, feminist, and postmodern schools of thought) that the process of inquiry is not a neutral activity (Brown & Strega, 2005); it is a highly political endeavor with significant implications for the researcher as well as the individuals and contexts that serve as the focus of study. While the opening reflection from Ruth Nicole sheds light on a particular strategy for shaping the methodological choices of graduate students beginning their socialization ← 1 | 2 → as educational researchers (i.e., teaching them to let the question guide the selection of method[ology]),1 it is important to recognize that Ruth Nicole’s counsel is only one of the many ideologically anchored discourses influencing the development of researcher identities and methodological preferences. In addition to the guidance of mentors and educational inquiry instructors like Ruth Nicole, who themselves teach from a particular, although often unnamed, political point of view, the research beliefs and practices of emerging scholars are also shaped by global, national, disciplinary, and organizational discourses that delimit the parameters of legitimate inquiry and exert subtle (and occasionally overt) pressure to conform to particular prescriptions for what counts as research. The National Research Council’s (NRC) (2002) treatise, Scientific Research in Education, American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) (2006) Standards for Reporting on Empirical Social Science Research in AERA Publications, and institutional review board protocols predicated on the medical model of research (Koro-Ljungberg, Gemignani, Brodeur, & Kmiec, 2007) are three common examples of national and organizational discourses that seek to govern the practice of educational research.


XVI, 289
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2013 (September)
social justice policy practice dialogues
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 289 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Ruth Nicole Brown (Volume editor) Rozana Carducci (Volume editor) Candace R. Kuby (Volume editor)

Ruth Nicole Brown (PhD in Political Science from the University of Michigan, Ann-Arbor) is an assistant professor of social and cultural foundations of educational policy and gender studies with a joint appointment in the Departments of Education Policy, and Organizational Leadership and Gender and Women’s Studies. Among other books and articles, she is the author of the forthcoming title Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood. Rozana Carducci (PhD in Higher Education and Organizational Change from ULCA) is an assistant professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri. Dr. Carducci is co-author of the ASHE Higher Education Report, Qualitative Inquiry for Equity in Higher Education: Methodological Innovations, Implications, and Interventions (2012). Candace Kuby (PhD in Literacy, Culture and Language Education from Indiana University) is an assistant professor of early childhood education in the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum at the University of Missouri. She is the author of the forthcoming title Moments of Consciousness-Raising: Personal Narratives that Influence Critical Literacy Teaching.


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