MYRIAM D. DIATTA, BFA, MFA, PhD 

/meer-yam jaa-ta/
(b. 1990 Dakar)


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EMBODYING SELF AWARENESS
We must investigate ourselves; the bodies we live in that contain our worldviews
2019



Author(s): Myriam D. Diatta
Status: Abstract accepted to the 16th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. Conference cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Abstract

When you wish a person (or from the position of one of my communities, a designer) would be more self aware —what might that actually look like to do that? Beyond reading, cerebrally and intellectually engaging with theories and stories, how do you practice it? In one of many mini-experiments to explore how her design research practice is changing, Myriam writes about how politicized, harmful, erasing, challenging experiences in the past few years affect her body. She writes briefly about several of these moments autoethnographically, using guided writing, techniques she has learned from the Vipassanā meditation tradition, and critical theory. How might you reciprocate the way(s) others affect you? How do you tap into how it feels to be aware of the space you take up? In-the-moment, how might your bodily sensations affect what you offer others? What might it take to develop the skills to tap into these ways of knowing right then and there? This paper investigates an embodied, physical exercise, a writing process, and entangles it with critical theories. It offers a process for interrogating through the body in context of a politicized way of working with people. It traces the way a researcher might make visible their change process as a research practitioner—temporally and materially.

Keywords: ethics, materiality, embodiment, meditation, design research, autoethnography


Excerpt

“I am heading into a meeting that I’ve been hyping myself up to go to, building myself up to show up to. I feel totally tiny but dense and heavy as I walk up the street, into the building and up the elevator. I feel nearly my original size by the time we all arrive and are sitting at the table but a little crooked and bent. I excuse myself to go to the bathroom because I feel a pounding in my head and pressure behind my eyes and I throw up in the toilet. I feel better and back to full size but with lots of aches from being tiny and crooked. Black oil was surrounding me back then but didn’t know it. We start the meeting.”

Read all 3 short pieces of writing in this article.
(Doing the meditative, performative movements depicted in the video above over a period of days is one way into the process of recalling embodied, lived experience and engaging in critical reflexivity.)

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