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Shorelines, Seashells, and Seeds: Feminist Epistemologies, Ecological Thinking, and Relational Ontologies

Abstract

This chapter provides a brief sketch of feminist epistemologies, their earlier iterations, and their contributions to relational epistemologies and methodologies, while also highlighting how they have sown the seeds for continuing feminist contributions to relational dimensions of knowledge making. It engages, through diffractive readings, with some of the work of pioneering and leading feminist epistemologist Lorraine Code and her four-decade trajectory of writing on knowledge making, subjectivities, and epistemic responsibilities, and especially her recent writing on ecological thinking. I work with Code’s metaphorical and literal ecological examples—Deleuzian ethology, a case study of Rachel Carson, and an exploration of seeds and their socio-cultural roots. I argue that these metaphors work to demonstrate how Code challenges dominant approaches to knowledge making that separate epistemology and ontology and presents ecological thinking as an alternative approach that entangles politics, ethics, epistemology, and ontology as well as knowing, being, and doing. The chapter highlights some of the methodological implications of working with ecological thinking; specifically, ecological thinking offers insights about epistemological and ontological relationality that resonates with, but also expands, current sociological methodological approaches and relational sociology. These include making shifts from reflexivity to diffraction and from interaction to intra-action ; a focus on vitality and processes of becoming; and thinking through our ontological underpinnings, including what it means to work with ontological alterity and ontological multiplicities. I argue that Code’s ecological thinking approach warrants more attention within relational sociology.

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Doucet, A. (2018). Shorelines, Seashells, and Seeds: Feminist Epistemologies, Ecological Thinking, and Relational Ontologies. In: Dépelteau, F. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Relational Sociology. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-66005-9_19

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