Thresholds: Race, Artistic Research, and the Forms of Knowledge

This talk was presented at the Centre for Practice-Led Research in the Arts (CePRA), University of Leeds, on 22 July 2021. Thanks to Scott McLaughlin for inviting me.

Knowledge is often imagined in spatial terms, as comprising numerous distinct but contiguous fields (or even worlds). However, the relations between fields of knowledge are not simply geometrical. How might we begin to imagine these relations as neither simple nor entirely incommensurable?

In a recent essay called “Thresholds,” I propose a series of five steps that describe what it might feel like to move from one field to another through a process of research or “unfolding”. The steps unfold as a kind of trajectory: field, object, threshold, technique, principle, and then back to field again. There is also a complementary trajectory that moves in the opposite direction, which I call pedagogical or “folding”: field, principle, technique, threshold, object, field. These trajectories are not intended as a comprehensive phenomenology of epistemic experience, but perhaps they offer a few starting points for mapping fields of knowledge both interdisciplinarily and intersectionally.

My current research builds on my previous theorizations of knowledge and embodiment, but engages more substantially with critical race studies and with Black and Indigenous theories of identity and place. In this talk, I will revisit my five-step map of epistemic experience in the context of racial media ontologies and the forms of knowledge as contested by artistic research.