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ABSTRACT – This article challenges the neoliberal discourse of “instrumental rationality” that is encroaching on theories of qualitative research, critical reflection, and subjectivity. I return to Foucault’s historical ontology of the self and the ancient Athenian precept care of the self to show that critical reflection and rationality have never been mutually exclusive. I put the care of the self metaphor to empirical use by examining the practical and ethical issues that emerged when I transitioned from a statesponsored frontline employee working with public housing tenants, to a university researcher investigating public housing tenant participation in a state-sponsored urban redevelopment project. The focus is on my experiences as a practitionerresearcher working within two neoliberalized institutions, while also constructing a performative research ethic to mount a challenge against the politics of neoliberal “evidence” in the space between.

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