Babel at 35,000 Feet: Banality and Ineffability in Qualitative Research

Sandro R. Barros


In this article, I explore the banalities of qualitative work flirting with some of the premises of non-representation theories' (NRT) thinking style. More specifically, I interrogate the usefulness of thinking with the mundane to explore the kinds of opportunities that could be afforded to language and transcultural communication if we repositioned qualitative work as a more-than-human affair. Drawing from experiences while conducting fieldwork onboard transatlantic flights, I discuss the implications of accounting for banalities and their embodiment within a flat ontology perspective. I conclude with a few remarks on criticality and qualitative research striving to present—as opposed to represent—elements in the fieldwork otherwise discarded as irrelevant, but that might be particularly revealing of what shapes a researcher's logic and what the researcher brings to bear as social phenomena, particularly in language and (as) communication.


non-representational theory; qualitative research; transcultural communication; language; aesthetics

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Copyright (c) 2020 Sandro R. Barros

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