Twist(ed)ing liminalities: Qualitative inquiry and engaging with/in the “in-between”

Twist(ed)ing liminalities: Qualitative inquiry and engaging with/in the “in-between”

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At the times of a post-truth era and extreme political movements, liminal positions, liminal thinking and liminal methodologies are a part of everyday lives of many scholars and citizens. Liminality and liminal relationalities create possibilities and spaces of/for resistance and border- between-space activism. In the field of qualitative inquiry liminal thinking has been stimulated by critical theories, the contributions of new materialism and posthumanism (see e.g., Barad, 2007, Braidotti, 2013), the problematization of fixed ontologies (MacLure, 2013, Manning, 2013; 2016), and critical questioning of data, researcher, and ‘validity’ as viable and taken-for- granted concepts and methodological practices (see e.g., Koro-Ljungberg, Löytönen & Tesar, Eds, 2017). Furthermore, claims, propositions, experiments, and movement beyond the method, spaces after the method, or in-between methodological spaces have stimulated many scholars and practitioners locally and globally. In this special issue we assert that engaging with liminalities can be affirmatively productive, as a concept, space, affect, practice, process, and/or new form of relationality in the current neoliberal climate. More specifically, we wonder how liminalities, liminal spaces and practices of border crossing that intersect with ontologies and methodologies function and work in offering a sincerer rendering of life at/on the margin and/or in consistent motion. Liminality as an aspect of theoretical and ontological orientation has been taken up in various interdisciplinary fields such as cultural studies, women and gender studies, and ethnic studies; animated largely by the germinal work of Gloria Anzaldúa (1987). More recently, liminality as an ontological space has been engaged to think through the legal precarity and existential ambiguity of various vulnerable communities’ access to liberal conceptualizations of citizenship, such as undocumented students (Gonzales, 2016; Torres & Wicks-Asbun, 2014), migrant workers (Hahamovitch, 2011) and immigrants (Lowe, 1996).


In addition, liminalities and liminal spaces call for creative, qualitative methodological problem solving. Maybe new questions, concepts, methods, and interactions with participants could be invented. Responsibility also looks different in liminal spaces. Duty and binary ethics are likely to be challenged since values, relationships, and practices are more fluid and continuously changing. How can liminalities be (re)created in neoliberal contexts? Furthermore, we encourage authors to consider how scholar-educators produce critical scholarship and emancipatory moves within qualitative research spaces employing notions of liminality. We also invite authors to explore the experiences and forms of what we term twisting/resisting/re-creating liminalities.

Twisting liminalities might operate as (im)possible, desirable, and even paradoxical constructions with/in/of liminal spaces associated with qualitative inquiry. Twisting liminalities

– as processes and practices, as (un)structured effects, radical and affective ontologies – could open avenues for the unthought, the twisted, and the affected domains of knowledge production. Moreover, a substantive engagement with liminalities takes seriously, and attempts to account for, the liminal spaces occupied by scholar-educators, students and research participants. Despite neoliberal efforts to effectively isolate and eliminate liminal spaces and practices within the normative, or to co-opt these traditionally unthought spaces within the grasp of heteronormative patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism, resisting/re-creating these attempted co-optations may offer alternatives, counter-narratives, diverging practices away from emerging normative regimes of both knowledge and subject production. Twist(ed)ing liminalities may even offer scholars possibilities for playing within the grey/unstable/paradoxical/twisted areas endemic to qualitative research.


We encourage authors to consider questions such as, but not limited to:

▪       How does liminality (of all kinds) work in the context of qualitative inquiry?

▪       How might liminality inform, shape, and co-constitute research practices, scholarly

engagements, and researchers’ embodied relationalities?

▪       How does liminality challenge notions of data, validity, data collection, and data analysis?

▪       How might liminality within qualitative inquiry assist scholars in producing work that

productively resists reductionist and overly simplifying practices of neoliberal, heteronormative, and patriarchal educational discourses?

▪       How does liminality function as a fold for critical qualitative inquiry?

▪       What are some methodological possibilities and challenges of liminality?

▪       How can liminalities serve as “becomewith” (Haraway, 2016) functions and what do they


Abstracts due: December 15, 2017

Invitations for full manuscripts sent to the authors: January 15, 2018 Manuscripts due to co-editors: June 1, 2018

Manuscripts returned to authors for revisions: August 1, 2018 Revised Manuscripts due: September 15, 2018

Manuscripts submitted to Journal: October 15, 2018


All submissions should be sent to or for review.




Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands: la frontera (Vol. 3). San Francisco: Aunt Lute. Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway. Durham: Duke University Press. Braidotti, R. (2013). The posthuman. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Gonzales, R. G. (2016). Lives in limbo: Undocumented and coming of age in America. Univ of California Press.

Hahamovitch, C. (2011). No Man's Land: Jamaican guestworkers in America and the global history of deportable labor. Princeton University Press.

Haraway, D. (2016). Staying with the troubles. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Koro-Ljungberg, M., Löytönen, T., & Tesar, M. (2017) (Eds.). Disrupting data in qualitative inquiry: Entanglements with the Post-Critical and Post-Anthropocentric. Peter Lang.

Lowe, L. (1996). Immigrant acts: on Asian American cultural politics. Duke University Press.

MacLure, M. (2013). Researching without representation? Language and

materiality in post-qualitative methodology. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 26(6), 658-667. doi: DOI: 10.1080/09518398.2013.788755

Manning, E. (2013). Always more than one. Durham: Duke University Press. Manning, E. (2016). The minor gesture. Durham: Duke University Press.

Torres, R. M., & Wicks-Asbun, M. (2014). Undocumented students’ narratives of liminal citizenship: High aspirations, exclusion, and “in-between” identities. The Professional Geographer, 66(2), 195-204.

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