(How) do you surface these failures in writing? What happens to the paths not pursued, the readings unread, the papers rejected?
What springs to mind is the chapter in Global Assemblages by Annelise Riles and Hirokazu Miyazaki. They outline how 'failure' is operationalised in financial markets vis a vis anthropology. Their point (I think!) is that failure needs to be sometimes seen as an end-point and engaged with as such, rather than a gateway to anthropological knowledge on complexity, open-endedness, and inderminancy. It's a challenging idea.
I am involved in a large research project that brings together university researchers and industry practitioners. This is certainly a model that is favoured by governments, who are looking for 'practical' research outputs. The collaboration has been so fraught throughout though, with many failures along the way. However, with negotiation and compromise, there have been many generative insights, often rooted in failure! I've consciously dug around for gateways between different worlds, and have tried to stay with discomfort, friction, and encounter.
Beautiful sketch. Meg, this was such a generous insight into the interface between collaboration and failure. It reminds me that collaboration is always fraught, always involves negotiation and compromise, and is always in a process of being resolved. Failure is never too far away!