Rhizomatic Mapping

Introduction- Rhizome PDF from A Thousand Plateaus 1980

“A system of this kind could be called a rhizome. A rhizome as subterranean stem is absolutely different from roots and radicles. Bulbs and tubers are rhizomes. Plants with roots or radicles may be rhizomorphic in other respects altogether: the question is whether plant life in its specificity is not entirely rhizomatic. Even some animals are, in their pack form. Rats are rhizomes. Burrows are too, in all of their functions of shelter, supply, movement, evasion, and breakout. The rhizome itself assumes very diverse forms, from ramified surface extension in all directions to concretion into bulbs and tubers. When rats swarm over each other. The rhizome includes the best and the worst: potato and couchgrass, or the weed. Animal and plant, couchgrass is crabgrass.” (p 6 ATP)

‘…certain approximate characteristics of the rhizome.’

1 and 2. Principles of connection and heterogeneity: any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be. This is very different from the tree or root, which plots a point, fixes an order. (p 7 ATP)

3. Principle of multiplicity: it is only when the multiple is effectively treated as a substantive, “multiplicity,” that it ceases to have any relation to the One as subject or object, natural or spiritual reality, image and world. (p 8 ATP)

4. Principle of asignifying rupture: against the oversignifying breaks separating structures or cutting across a single structure. A rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines. You can never get rid of ants because they form an animal rhizome that can rebound time and again after most of it has been destroyed. (p 9 ATP)

5 and 6. Principle of cartography and decalcomania: a rhizome is not amenable to any structural or generative model. It is a stranger to any idea of genetic axis or deep structure. A genetic axis is like an objective pivotal unity upon which successive stages are organized; a deep structure is more like a base sequence that can be broken down into immediate constituents, while the unity of the product passes into another, transformational and subjective, dimension. (p 12 ATP)

“The rhizome is altogether different, a map and not a tracing. Make a map, not a tracing. The orchid does not reproduce the tracing of the wasp; it forms a map with the wasp, in a rhizome. What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real. The map does not reproduce an unconscious closed in upon itself; it constructs the unconscious.” (p 12 ATP)


Rhizomatic mapping: Spaces for learning in higher education

Jane Grellier

School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University, Perth, Australia

Grellier, J. (2013) Rhizomatic mapping: Spaces for learning in higher education. School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University, Perth, Australia. https://bit.ly/2qASM93

‘Philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari’s figuration of the rhizome describes structures that are non-hierarchical and open-ended. Rhizomatic analyses are increasingly being adopted in educational research to challenge traditional power structures, give voice to those previously unheard, and open issues in messy but authentic ways. Rhizomatic mapping involves depicting a number of points that elaborate, shape and disrupt each other, encouraging readers to draw their own interconnecting routes or separating chasms between them. In this paper, I adopt rhizomatic mapping techniques to open up issues of learning spaces in one Australian university, in order to problematise the mass university’s approaches to student learning. In this mapping, I give voice to two of the least powerful groups in the university, first-year students and sessional tutors, alongside educational academics and administrators.’ (p1)

Keywords: ethnography; first-year experience; qualitative research; reflective practice; student experience

‘Rhizomatic analysis has become increasingly valued in educational research in the past two decades (e.g. Honan, 2004, 2007; Sellers & Gough, 2010; St Pierre, 1997a, 1997b, 2000). Indeed, Zelia Gregoriou suggests that Deleuze has opened possibilities for ‘the reclaim of philosophy of education from its “illicit” nuptials with the social sciences’ (2004, p. 234). She argues that Deleuze and Guattari’s work enables a ‘minor philosophy of education’ [her emphasis] [my bold]. (p2)

‘In an appropriately Deleuzian term, she invokes a musical image (‘in a minor key’), and depicts a thinking liberated from being ‘haunted by the big figures of philosophy’s fathers’, so that it can encompass ideas and approaches from a range of disciplines without the fear of being hijacked from the field of education.’ (p2)

“‘[Rhizomes] affirm what is excluded from western thought and reintroduce reality as dynamic, heterogeneous, and non dichotomous … they propagate, displace, join, circle back, fold’ (O’Riley, 2003, p. 27).” (p2)

“The choice of node to begin this mapping is arbitrary: rhizomes have no beginning or end, but are ‘always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 25). Elizabeth St Pierre (1997b, p. 176), who identifies with poststructural approaches to educational research, insists on the vital role of rhizomes in a world in which we are all ‘becomings’: ‘[W]e must learn to live in the middle of things, in the tension of conflict and confusion and possibility; and we must become adept at making do with the messiness of that condition and at finding agency within’.” (p5)

‘A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo. The tree is filiation, but the rhizome is alliance, uniquely alliance. The tree imposes the verb “to be” but the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, “and … and … and…”This conjunction carries enough force to shake and uproot the verb “to be.”‘ (p 25 ATP)


So how does it work? – rhizomatic methodologies https://bit.ly/2HPsYN1

Dr Eileen Honan, & Margaret Sellers, The University of Queensland


My intent, in short, is to extract from Deleuze’s project an apparatus of social critique built on a utopian impulse. Its insistent question is ‘how does it work?’ (Buchanan, 2000, p. 8).

‘In this paper, we explore two different approaches to the development of a rhizomatic methodology. In a rhizomatic fashion, we map the connections and disconnections between and across these different pathways. Three connections are described: first, writing a rhizomatic text that is non-linear and self-consciously part of the research method; second, using rhizomatic thought to analyse the discourses operating within data; and third, following Deleuzian lines of flight that connect and link disparate forms of data so that (im)plausible readings can connect analysis of writing, artworks, video, and interview transcripts. The various disconnections are provided to illustrate the impossibility of establishing some kind of formulaic methodology that would neatly answer Buchanan’s question of “how does it work?”. Rather, we are aware of the dangers of “methodolatory” (Harding, 1987) and offer this paper as one particular and specific reading of the contributions that Deleuzian theories can make to educational research methods.’



SIMON O’SULLIVAN https://bit.ly/2JGJvZm

‘Cultural studies which replaces the possible with the virtual becomes a much more affirmative project. Affirming the fullness of life (understood as endless creativity) rather than lamenting its lack.’ (p 90)

“And the practice, or the ‘writing’, of cultural studies itself is no longer an interpretation but becomes an experiment, an ‘exploratory probe’, an event amongst events. In such a project other media might equally be utilised (no more hegemony of the essay/article). Indeed cultural studies, in common with other creative practices, might involve taking up different materials from different milieux. At stake in these experiments is the accessing of other worlds. Not worlds ‘beyond’ this one (no transcendent, nor utopian principle) but worlds, ‘incorporeal universes’ as Guattari calls them, virtual and immanent in this one. Cultural studies might be a name for this work of imagination.” (p 92)


Learning Happens: Incorporating a Rhizomatic Perspective into Teaching and Learning (2016)

Michael Dillon. University of Georgia,


‘Traditional approaches to adult learning theory tend to categorize learning into particular types, such as transformative (Mezirow, 1991), situated (Lave and Wenger, 1991), or experiential (Dewey, 1938) to name just a few. Although such learning models are valuable, these binary categorizations can have the impact of compartmentalization and exclusion of certain features of opposing theories. These traditional models may also have the impact of presenting learning as a linear activity in which educators and learners manipulate the inputs in hopes of maximizing learning output. While these learning theories are helpful for educators and learners, this paper will review a different approach, a rhizomatic perspective of teaching and learning (Kang, 2007). Data from research (Dillon, 2013) regarding learning in a neighborhood community leadership program will be utilized as a conceptualization of applying this perspective.’


The Classroom as Rhizome: New Strategies for Diagramming Knotted Interactions Elizabeth de Freitas https://bit.ly/2JTV0fi


‘This article calls attention to the unexamined role of diagrams in educational research and offers examples of alternative diagramming practices or tools that shed light on classroom interaction as a rhizomatic process. Drawing extensively on the work of Latour, Deleuze and Guattari, and Châtelet, this article explores the power of diagramming as a creative force in research rather than a reductive one. The concepts of rhizome, assemblage, and knot are developed and applied to the study of classroom interaction. The author then shows how these concepts and their application to classroom interaction can be studied through topological knot diagrams. The author discusses the specific qualities of knot diagrams that make them suitable tools for the study of rhizomatic processes and offers some examples of such diagrams. The author offers these knot diagrams as tools that actually undermine the usual conventions of graphic representation in our field, not simply to disrupt for the sake of disruption, but to invite speculation about how one might develop different diagramming habits that better capture the entanglement of interaction.’

Keywords assemblage, Deleuze, diagram, classroom interaction, entanglement, knot