In this article, we discuss the contributions that Karen Barad's theorizations can make to the study of well-being, particularly their ontoepistemological framework, “agential realism,” that emphasizes the inseparability of matter, ethics, and knowledge, as the relational entanglements of agencies. We use these ideas to imagine well-being as differential materializations, entanglements of human, and the non-human agencies that “intra-act” with each other and are inseparable from how we know about them and our responsibilities in their reconfigurations. From this perspective, we see well-being as a phenomenon, underpinning its dynamism and processuality. Analyzing an interview fragment, we exemplify how Barad's theorizations can offer a different way to think about well-being, recognizing the differences within and the consequences of thinking about it as being otherwise. We argue that this approach opens new possibilities and research trajectories that expand the field of well-being studies, understanding well-being studies as a more local, dynamic, open-ended phenomenon.


new materialism, agential realism, well-being, relational well-being

Author Bio(s)

M. Isidora Bilbao-Nieva, Ph.D., is a faculty member at the Psychology Department, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile. Her research focuses on well-being from gendered and contextualized perspectives. She uses qualitative methods and feminist approaches to explore the daily experiences of adolescent girls as ways to examine their discourses of well-being and how they are intertwined with the communities and territories in which they position and operate. Please direct correspondence to ibilbao@uahurtado.cl

Alejandra Meyer holds an M.A. degree in sociology and a Ph.D. in Education. She is especially interested in the intersection between educational policy and practice and the living experiences of children and people of the school. Her doctoral research explored the entanglement of educational trajectories with students’ identity categories, processes of discipline and normalization, and socio-affective components. Her work uses an ethnographic approach and visual and artistic methods with young people, as well as critical perspectives and post-structural thinking as analytic devices to think and explore educational justice and inclusion. Please direct correspondence to acmeyerr@gmail.com

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