Post-Qualitative Inquiry, Spatiotemporality, and Anthonomasia

Qualitative Inquiry, Spatiotemporality, and Anthonomasia

Although many qualitative researchers have rejected modernism as a guiding theoretical framework, they continue to work within a space/time binary. Space and time represent two of our most fundamental concepts, and the associated binary operates essentially unquestioned. The concepts of spacing, temporalizing, and spatiotemporality are introduced to show how time is irremediably contaminated by space and vice versa. 

A strange space is opened up by the deconstruction of space and time, one in which every “now” is also a “point” and every “point” is also a “now.” This properly differential and original space constitutes one important aspect of a post-qualitative inquiry. Derrida’s work, Glas, is then introduced as an example of a text in which a spatiotemporal reinscription is attempted. Anthonomasia as a writing strategy is then discussed as a way in which a spatiotemporal reinscription can occur more deliberately. Examples are also presented to illustrate this writing strategy.


A number of qualitative researchers (e.g., Jackson, 2013; Lather, 2007, 2013; Lather & St. Pierre, 2013; MacLure, 2013; Mazzei, 2013; St. Pierre, 2011, 2013)1 have recently begun the important process of articulating a post-qualitative inquiry. As part of this task, I believe that we are required to deconstruct not only the methodological concepts that inform qualitative research but also those related concepts that operate more tacitly and are therefore most hidden from our view. 

Space and time are two such concepts: Although many qualitative researchers have either explicitly or implicitly rejected modernism as a guiding theoretical framework, they continue to work, fundamentally, within a space/time binary. In other words, this binary operates essentially unquestioned. At its most general level, this article is an attempt to show the common origin of space and time, and to reveal, from a Derridean perspective, how space and time are always contaminating one another. 

This article continues earlier work (Hein, 2013) that I completed on ontological time and its significance for post-qualitative inquiry. In that work, I articulated two potentially promising directions for writing in the post-qualitative moment: portmanteau words and writing that strives to incorporate Aion-based temporal dispersion (i.e., “tempo- rally stretched” descriptions). 

Lather and St. Pierre (2013) have described their own and others’ efforts to think of a post- qualitative inquiry, one that emerges after the dominance of neo-positivism during the last decade, as a “refusal space” (p. 629). Moreover, they ask, “What might the ‘post-qualitative’ look like in such a space?” (Lather & St. Pierre, 2013, p. 629). In the first part of this article, I introduce the concepts of spacing, temporalizing, and spatiotemporality and articulate one fundamental aspect of the theoretical space within which a post-qualitative inquiry would operate. 

From an ontological perspective, it will become clear that this is the space within which all of us do our work, whether we are aware of it or not. I then use Derrida’s (1974/1986) monumental work Glas to introduce a third promising writing strategy for post-qualitative inquiry, antonomasia, and illustrate it using a number of examples from Glas.

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