I am curious about the relational play between what I call intensive and extensive knowledge practices in transdisciplinarity. Intensive practices are those closely negotiated among relatively bounded communities of practice, such as disciplines-in-the-making, local alliances, threatened units, or long-lived organizations, and they are often used to emphasize rigor and membership. I tend to find myself having to justify extensive practices, those of speculative connections, practical coalitions, and trial and error learning; such as one finds in transdisciplinary projects, transmedia storytelling, and alternative practices-in-the-making. These tend to emphasize peripheral participation and the edges of standardized practices.
I like that extensive investigations perpendicularly analyze relative and relational shifts across authoritative and alternative knowledges, and that their displays can work without displacing the intensive work of specific communities of practice. This is that perpendularity of extensive examination as transcontextual – befriending paradox and sensitized to double binds.
grain of detail
The “rigor” of transcontextual feminist methods comes into play I believe when we welcome that “People often cannot see what they take for granted until they encounter someone who does not take it for granted” (Bowker and Star 1999: 291), and work for an exquisite sensitivity to each horizon of possible resources and infrastructures, local exigencies, and differential memberships. Such extensive exploration works out in and around grain of detail, noting both • membership and • peripheral participation. Valuing and evaluating simultaneously • intensive knowledge management and • extensive knowledge inspections. Recognizing and rewarding the paradoxical work by • distributed author agencies struggling to contact • distributed, niche, emergent “audiences” or uses. All this requires both • scoping out: assemblage and infrastructure and • scaling in: closely negotiated disciplinary interests.
Transdisciplinary work befriends and experiences a range of academic and other genres of writing, entailment and analysis, befriends and experiences their consequent and diverging values, sometimes in tacit collaboration, but here in perpendicular examination. Transcontextual feminisms as I have come to understand them, have to scope and scale among ecologies of knowledge. They work to remain curious: about both the passionate affiliations that intensive knowledge work done among close and precise disciplinary grains of detail require and produce, and also the necessarily recursive and speculative wanderings among knowledge worlds to produce extensive pattern-makings that transdisciplinary work makes possible.
From Klein, J. T. (2004). Prospects for transdisciplinarity. Futures, 36(4), 515-526.
"The epistemological challenge that transdisciplinarity presents...is profound. Forms of multi-, pluri-, and interdisciplinarity do not call into question disciplinary thinking. Transdisciplinarity does, through the principle of articulation between different forms of knowledge. Of necessity, transdisciplinary work is based on disciplinary practice...makes use of multi- and interdisciplinarity. It is distinct, however, even as it is complementary. ...it requires that disciplinary thinking evolves to match the complexity of the issues facing science [and knowledge] today. The realization that reality is multidimensional has implications for unity of knowledge as well. The older notion of synthesis, which perpetuated the principle that an object has only one reality whose unity must be reconstituted, is no longer possible. Transdisciplinarity requires deconstruction, which accepts that an object can pertain to different levels of reality, with attendant contradictions, paradoxes, and conflicts. [It takes] into account the flow of information circulating between various branches of knowledge, permitting the emergence of unity amidst diversity and diversity through the unity. A systematic and holistic approach is still possible...but in a mode of coherence rather than unity. The new notion of a “whole” preserves the multidimensional aspect of the object of study.
Transdisciplinarity was once one of many terms. It has become a major imperative across all sectors or society and knowledge domains, making it more than a fad or fashion. It has become an essential mode of thought and action." (524)