Researching Trauma: Some Methodological Considerations for the Humanities
Since at least the mid-1990s trauma has come to form a more staple theme of research in the humanities, across and between the fields of history, literature, anthropology, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, memory studies, and of course psychoanalysis. More recently, there has been a concerted effort to “decolonize” trauma studies, outlining how the variegated field remains subservient to European and North American teleological and epistemological repertoires. And while accompanying critiques of trauma studies as a discourse—as an institutionally located reproductive mechanism of power and knowledge maintaining relational conduits of subject and object formations—have served to draw attention to the constitutive implications of research paradigms, this has taken place almost exclusively within the bounds of theory.
In this essay, I take as my point of departure the idea that in the humanities there has been an excessive amount of trauma theory, all the while neglecting to develop discussions around methodology. In proposing a consideration of methodology, I want to shift the debate from its overdetermined theoretical concerns to the more worldly, fleshy, and physical contours of a materialist phenomenology focusing on modalities of encountering, inhabiting, and embodying specific livelihoods— livelihoods of people, of places, of things, of objects—including research subjects and research materials themselves. While discussing these themes I draw on some of my encounters with subjects of my research in Lebanon.
Copyright (c) 2018 Norman Saadi Nikro
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