Thesis as kin: ontological relationships with critical development research

Ms Lauren Tynan1

1Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


‘Thesis as kin’ derives from my own Aboriginal ontological translation of the English (originally Latin) word ‘thesis’. From this understanding ‘thesis’ is broken into two parts, ‘the’ ‘sis’, revealing the short form for sister ‘sis’ as the primary entity. From here, thesis is reframed as relational, as sister or kin to be conceptualised, grown and become (Bawaka Country including Suchet-Pearson et al., 2013). Subsequently, other common metaphors for a research thesis, such as ‘body of work’ take on a more corporeal form as they refer to the embodiment of the thesis as a sister, an entity of its own, with whom I hold a deep relatedness. As a Tasmanian Aboriginal woman undertaking critical development research, this paper will speak to my ontological relationships with “research as relation” (Tuck & McKenzie, 2015, p. 22) as I continue my PhD. ‘Thesis as kin’ can similarly be translated or re-imagined as ‘thesis askin’’, an agentic provocation that situates knowledge production with the thesis itself and suggests the thesis is askin’ (asking) questions. ‘Thesis as kin’ decentres the human-centric notion of academic scholarship by revealing and acknowledging the powerful role of more-than-human entities in the processes and outcomes of academic knowledge production.


Lauren Tynan is a trawlwulwuy woman from tebrakunna country, north-east Tasmania, grown up on Awabakal Country and living on Dharawal and Yuin Country. She is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning, Macquarie University, focusing on how community organisations centre ‘Country’ and decolonise development practices.


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