Feeling Medusa: tentacular troubling of academic positionality, recognition and respectability

Shiva Zarabadi, Carol A. Taylor, Nicola Fairchild, Anna Moxnes

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This article explores a series of tentacular troublings inspired by Donna Haraway’s (2016) concept of String Figuring (SF). We consider these troublings as relational entanglements which produce perturbations of our gender, positioning, recognition, and respectability as feminist academics in Higher Education. We activate tentacular troublings as a refrain for contemplating differences/ings in our academic lives and as a critique of contemporary neo-liberal academia which ossifies, fixes, and freezes feminist flows. The article makes two contributions. The first is to deploy string figuring as a proposition for feminist thinking which troubles the notion of fixed positions in favour of position(ings)-plural in motion. The second is to enact string figuring as a mode of ecriture feminine (Cixous, 1976) in which connections are made, dropped, and picked up in tentacular relays and patterns of entangled encounters, thereby perturbing normative modes of writing and troubling traditional modes of knowledge making. Feeling Medusa helps us with this work. Medusa, as powerful woman, Amazon goddess and gorgon, and vilified proto-feminist whose glance turns men to stone is knotted into our perturbations and troublings; her presence informs and inspires our SFing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-111
Number of pages25
JournalReconceptualizing Educational Research Methodology
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2019


  • String figuring
  • tentacular troubling
  • perturbing
  • ecriture feminine
  • position(ality)
  • feminism


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