'If I didn’t know you what would you want me to see?' Poetic mappings in neo-materialist research with young asylum seekers and refugees

Katja Frimberger, Ross White, Lyn Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


The following article puts to work an affirmative approach to critical theory through poetic mappings of the process of crafting identity boxes with ESOL students from refugee and asylum backgrounds in a Glasgow-based college in Scotland (UK). The article takes as its starting point the work of feminist and neo-materialist thinkers who argue for an ontological reorientation of our practices of inquiry. This involves the questioning of positivist research orientations, which regard language as mere second-order representations of a primary reality. We argue that such representationalist logic can implicate research participants in deficit orientations, especially when their embodied and often contested ways of being in the world defy purely linguistic or other 'fixed' cultural representations. With the aim to embrace epistemological uncertainty and prioritise our participants' embodied self-articulations over our " rage for meaning " (MacLure 2013), we experimented with poetic mappings as neomaterialist, arts-based research tools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-419
Number of pages28
JournalApplied Linguistics Review
Issue number2-3
Early online date10 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2018


  • new materialism
  • ESOL education
  • epistemological uncertainty
  • arts-based research
  • poetic mapping
  • identity box pedagogy

Cite this