Provocation 10: 

Carol A. Taylor
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Provocation 10: Coming to the door. Or, doors and what they do.

- What is a door?
- What is it for?
- What work does a door do?
- Which doors have come to matter to you? How? And why?
- What are your door stories?

Door: Barrier; gateway; entrance; portal; guardian; access; obstacle; boundary; border

Look around you. If you are inside a room somewhere, you will no doubt have multiple doors to pass through before you get outside. If you are outside, there will be doors you need to navigate to get inside.

Doors are thresholds
Doors are liminal spaces
Doors enfold inside/outside
Doors are physical-material
Doors are affective-symbolic
Doors are tactile
Doors engage somatechnic bodily manoeverings
Doors hold and fasten and fix
Doors open
Doors close
Doors are portals
Not all bodies can pass through all doors

Some images of doors:

I wrote something recently about doors. Have a listen:

Or, alternatively, read it here:

I notice that the majority of bodies at postqualitative presentations, workshops, events, happenings, gatherings, and conferences are still largely White, privileged, and in abundant possession of dominant modes of cultural capital. Whose bodies are not here and why? I raised this point in a talk I gave to an all-White gathering and the air sagged and the good mood wavered as discomfort swirled and denial was voiced. But, I think, if postqualitative endeavors are to be worth anything, and if flipping methodology in postqualitative mode is an ethico-onto-epistemological political project in relation to opening theory-practice spaces in which differential matterings actually matter, then we need postqualitative to be a dwelling which is capacious, airy, heart-ful, and has no doors. I say “no doors” because, as Derrida (2000) notes, “if there is a door, there is no longer hospitality . . . as soon as there are a door and windows, it means that someone has the key to them and consequently controls the conditions of hospitality” (p. 14). Derrida goes on to draw a distinction between “the hospitality of invitation” and “the hospitality of visitation.” In visitation, he says, “there is no door. Anyone can come at any time and can come in without needing a key for the door. There are no customs checks with a visitation. But there are customs and police checks with an invitation” (Derrida, 2000, p. 14). What would it mean—what would it do—to pursue thinking-with the possibility of postqualitative work as visitation? The visitor may be the uninvited, the stranger, the one who, or that which, brings what is difficult, unforeseen, unknown, and unanticipateable—a something to reckon with. To paraphrase Derrida, if I was only prepared to welcome those invited ones, the ones I am ready and prepared for, who come at the allotted hour, and who look like others I already know, where then is hospitality?

Taylor, C. A. (2020). Flipping methodology: Or, errancy in the meanwhile and the need to remove doors. Qualitative Inquiry. 27 (2) 235–238.

Here is something about me:

I am Professor of Higher Education and Gender in the Department of Education at the University of Bath where I am Head of Research and lead the Learning, Pedagogy and Diversity Research cluster. My research focuses on the entangled relations of knowledge, power, gender, space and ethics in higher education and utilizes trans- and interdisciplinary feminist materialist and posthumanist theories and methodologies. I am co-editor of the journal Gender and Education. I serve on the Editorial Boards of Teaching in Higher Education, Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning and Journal of Posthumanism. My latest books are Taylor, C. A., Ulmer, J., and Hughes, C. (Eds.) (2020) Transdisciplinary Feminist Research: Innovations in Theory, Method and Practice. London: Routledge; Taylor, C. A. and Bayley, A. (Eds.) (2019) Posthumanism and Higher Education: Reimagining Pedagogy, Practice and Research. London: Palgrave Macmillan, and Taylor, C. A., Abbas, A. and Amade-Escot, C. (Eds.) (2019) Gender in Learning and Teaching: Feminist Dialogues across International Boundaries. London: Routledge.


Nikki Fairchild:

When is a door not a door? When it is ajar…

This was one of the riddles we used to tell each other as children, the play on words was interesting, we would always sigh when the punchline was given. The Etymology of the word ‘ajar’ is quite revealing:

ajar (adv.)

“slightly open, neither open nor shut,” 1718, also on a jar, on the jar, perhaps from Scottish dialectal a char “turned a little way,” earlier on char (mid-15c.) “on the turn (of a door or gate),” from Middle English char “a turn,” from Old English cier “a turn”.

Ajar describes a range of doors – neither open nor shut, maybe open more for some than others. We can make a turn, follow a turn, lead a turn, someone can be on the turn or partially turned. In academia and life there are always doors to go through and gatekeepers to these doors. Blocked doors can jar us…they are affective and the resultant feelings can cause bodily hurts. Carol unpicks the challenge of doors in her provocation and urges ‘if postqualitative endeavors are to be worth anything, and if flipping methodology in postqualitative mode is an ethico-onto-epistemological political project in relation to opening theory-practice spaces in which differential matterings actually matter, then we need postqualitative to be a dwelling which is capacious, airy, heart-ful, and has no doors.’

I see ajar-ness as both a movement and moment of becoming, a zone of indiscernibility that exists between bodily interconnections. Deleuze and Guattari (1987) conceptualize this by considering the moment of pollination between the orchid and the wasp where becoming acts as an encounter, a point of transformation, a ‘difference-in-itself’ which is affirmative and productive. These thresholds of becoming ajar are self-sustaining and engender wider connectivity producing becomings elsewhere.

As a response to Carol’s provocation:

Doors can be ajar




On the turn


Slightly open





Perhaps we need to be more ajar…

Ajar matters


Rawan N.

I find myself very interested into different kinds, shapes, colors, size and materials of doors. In my previous travels I have always taken photographs of different front doors. Doors are structural elements in our built environment, they represent either boundaries and limitations, or openings to other places. It is also a tool of control that allows things to enter or exit a particular space. There are fixed doors, there are moving doors, floating doors, and flying doors.
To think about this, doors are literally everywhere!
Doors can tell a lot about our personalities and can hold many potential stories. Some might like glass doors, wooden doors, steel doors, or even plastic doors and I think there must be an explanation to these various preferences. Then I think a little deeper about doors, what are they figuratively? What do they represent? Doors can be beginnings; they can be gates to different opportunities and exposures. The powerful meaning of doors depends on the state of someone’s mind. If you are positive person, you will find yourself thinking about them positively. For that you will visualize them as new chapters, a new milestone. In contrary, if you are a negative thinker, you will see doors as barriers and worst, if you always see them “locked”. Thinking about personal stories, one particular door come to my mind which is the wooden door at my parents’ house. One morning I was trapped in the dining room because the door refused to open. After many tries of screaming and knocking on the door, my brother who was in another city and has just arrived heard me and helped me get out from another door in the room that was blocked with a huge closet. The funny thing is that as soon as I got out, the door that refused to work simply opened! Another story about the same kind of door is my parent’s restroom door. I was again trapped inside, and it just would not open. My family had to call civil defense to get me out of there! I hated that restroom and all similar doors at my parents’ house.

  The wooden doors at my parents’ house

Charlton L.

What is a door?


What is it for?

Division between superiors and inferiors

What work does a door do?

Enables different classes to tolerate same space

Which doors have come to matter to you? How? And why?

The exit doors matter to me because it is an exit to separation. The separation limits existences

What are your door stories?

3 Doors Down

Door 1- Duck and Run

Door 2- Changes

Door 3- Kryptonite

My story is about my 3 doors that are down or not working as it was designed to do. The lyrics of each song gives reasons on how I view my 3 doors down.

Timothy H.

Coming to the door. Or, doors and what they do

Doors have always been there. To be honest I have never really considered them as more than one of two things. One, a means for barrier to entry or exit. Two, an accent to a house for the outside world to admire. It wasn’t until reading Carol A. Taylor’s provocation that I began to really understand what a door means. It is a barrier to experiences. Granted access by “invitation” as Taylor puts it.

Thinking of a door as a barrier to experiences kindled the notion of a door preventing a better life. Over the course of my life, I have had the preconceived idea that just knocking on a door would grant you access, if you carry the right attitude when it opens. As easy as it sounds, what if the door were to open to someone else besides myself. What if it didn’t open at all. Based solely on reasons of prejudice.

Being a white male in the 21st century, I have been given an enormous responsibility. To open the door – and eyes – of everyone like me and let those not like me inside. Not just open a door but rip the damn thing off the hinges. A door is a constant reminder of separation and divide that needs to be removed from society. Allowing more to see the cultural myths and know prejudice is our problem.

For years, I had believed that I had done everything to prevent the spread of prejudice by not taking part in it. In doing so, I have closed the doors on many I have never met. This new light on what a door represents depressed me. I’m irritated to think of the missed opportunities to open a door and welcome in objection to the mindset passed down from family ideology.

What is a door

- A barrier to the outside world

What is it for?

- To remove myself from the outside world             

What work does a door do?

- Allows me to be comfortable in a world full of discomfort

Which doors have come to matter to you? How? Why?

- The doors I have control over. Taylor’s provocation showed me the true thoughtless meaning of a door. I now see doors as a pathway to detach from the world and hide in my own comfort.

What are your door stories?

- I have always taken pride in making sure I open the door for whoever is coming in behind me or out in front of me. A small gesture to show the others that I respect them. To me, holding a door open for a stranger helps to position them above me and shows them I am no better. While I do not have specific stories about doors, I do know I have always granted an easier means of overcoming the obstacle of a door. All doors are important to me. As they give me a way to open a world of opportunity to any who may not be given it. If I were to tell a story it would be the one concerning an individual I never met, spoke with – outside of their “thank you” and my “you’re welcome”, or made a connection to but still improved their day by being shown the small respect I could by opening a door.
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