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robertogreco : erasure   16

Ours First | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
"Have non-White families even considered this fascinating new way of educating?"



"Ours First: One

When unschooling is discussed, the practitioners presented or referenced tend to be families that are white and middle class or rich. The inevitable questions come up: Can poor or working class families afford to pull their children out of conventional schools? How can single-parent-families do this? Have non-White families even considered this fascinating new way of educating?

Then the inevitable responses: “Maybe poor families can do it, but with lots and lots of work.” Or, “Single parents will have to be quite creative in order to make this work.” Or, “Families of color don’t necessarily do this as often as White parents, but there’s a growing number that are. So that’s great!” The problem with these questions and subsequent responses is that they position Whiteness and wealth as the default standard-bearers of unschooling and other Self-Directed Education practices.

Of course, centering Whiteness and wealth is common practice in the settler-colonial, imperialist context that is the United States, which requires enslavement and genocide in order to maintain itself. However, in the name of resisting this practice, it is important for those of us interested in Self-Directed Education to take issue with the assumption that it falls under the purview of White wealth, as that assumption more accurately reflects the normalized and dominant identities of a Western-dominated global system, rather than the groups that historically practiced Self-Directed Education, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Indeed, a consideration of historic education Indigenous practices in the lands presently called the United States – and the practices of various groups who have been legally or circumstantially excluded from schooling – should remind us that the very groups not often seen as ‘typical’ unschoolers actually have extensive histories of Self-Directed Educative practice.

When discussing Self-Directed Education here, I speak as one existing at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities, as a member of groups whose survival within this settler colony hinges upon an understanding of the individual as an inextricable part of and dependent upon both human and non-human community. Based on this positionality, then, my understanding of unschooling and other unforced education practices is not merely ‘allowing’ children to ‘do what they want’ all day. Rather terms like unschooling, natural learning, and Self-Directed Education are, to me, shorthand for the fostering of a human existence that values each individual’s exploration of how to be – while also recognizing that this being occurs within a wider human- and non-human context, a context that is affected by and can affect the individual, and upon which the individual is dependent.

Under this definition, living without school is not only about the learner. It is about all who surround the learner – both human and non-human, alive and inanimate. Such living not only requires community, but it requires the health of that community. Not only a learner’s search for purpose, but a search for that purpose in a world of other purposes just as valuable as one’s own. It requires an awed humility – a recognition of one’s greatness and smallness, and the commitment to live fully within both. It requires a trust in instinct – an acknowledgement that our heart and gut have always been right, though the dominant culture tells us we are wrong.

Marginalized groups have been learning the world for a long time, and without school. Before and throughout this colonialist era, it is the way we learned to manage our food systems and organize communities. It is the way we learned to predict weather and navigate seas. It is the way we learned transportation routes and our stories. It is the way we learned ourselves and others. It is the way we learned who the oppressors really were, despite what they told us about themselves in their schools.

It is the way we learned to survive under Western colonialism and imperialism. And it is the way we will thrive beyond it.

Ours First: Two

I am not seeking someone else’s words on this one. I do not need another perspective. I do not need advice or input from someone I do not know, whose intentions will always be hidden from me. I do not need confirmation or affirmation when I say:

this was ours first.

A simple truth that has been made obscure, beaten down into the dirt and dust and grime so much that we believe we are dirty and dusty and grimy, too. So that we think the things that come from us are not worthy. So that we cannot even conceptualize what comes from us anymore, as it is so quickly spirited away, co-opted even as it is maligned, made into vulgar mutations that we, in our lack of imagination, prefer. We no longer recognize the things that come from us.

Even though they were ours first.

Sometimes we have an inkling, though. It sneaks up on us when we are not expecting it. A sad look in a child’s eye, for example. Or the sight of that child walking into a building simultaneously so close and so far away. Perhaps it comes as a hard awareness, slamming us with a rush of schedules, exhaustion, and conflict.

We have long known that we are fitting into a way of being that is not our own. Rather than wondering whether there is an alternative, however, we know that there is a better way. Maybe some of us always knew, but struggled to admit it to ourselves because of family schooling traditions or our own relationships with schooling. Maybe we’ve recently begun listening to the voice speaking inside us. Maybe the better way makes logical or logistical sense. Whatever reason brought you here, know that:

this was ours first.

That means that you can look to yourself and your people for solutions, for ideas, and for expertise. You can trust yourselves for the answers. You have those answers within you – and have had them for a long, long time. You can look beyond what is and toward a different way of being, a way of knowledge beyond oppression, of learning and living without compulsion. Your people have been doing this work of self-trust, knowledge creation, and liberatory imagination throughout their history... and it’s why your life is possible. Such non-compulsive living and learning, then, is not a new thing – it is, in fact, part of your ancestral tradition. Your very existence is evidence of that.

Were your people able to live lives where they were completely free to trust themselves and their knowledge-making practices all the time? Probably not. This lack of complete freedom is what it means to live as a marginalized person in a colonialist context. I assert, however, that any work leading to the health and endurance of a marginalized community requires knowledge-creation and -perpetuation that runs counter to the dominant model. Despite disruptions to marginalized groups’ liberatory, non-coercive educative practices, then, these groups’ continued existence within a White, settler-colonial context requiring their subjugation or elimination is evidence of this counter-education.

It is reductive, of course, to assume that marginalized groups, when given the chance, would not enact (or have not enacted) their own types of knowledge coercion and manipulation. This undoubtedly occurs, as forcing people to do things they do not want to do is not solely a Western concept. However, in a wider social and historical context that assumes Western dominance in all areas, and in which we currently find ourselves, the pressing issue is not that a marginalized group acts in ways similar to the dominant group – such a similarity may actually be expected. Rather, the issue is that Western knowledge-creation dictates that even divergence from the dominant model and institutions be White in order to be legitimate, palatable, or non-threatening – indeed, sometimes divergence must be White in order to be recognized as existing.

Such dictates lie, of course. Your people have been doing this – existing and resisting, learning the world and their freedom – for years and years. They’ve been doing it for themselves and with each other, and without school as we know it. Despite how the narrative is compiled around you, then, and despite whoever tries to sell you whatever is already inside of you, remember:

Ours. First."
unschooling  race  racism  kellylimes-taylorhenderson  erasure  colonialism  deschooling  self-directed  self-directedlearning  alternative  marginalization  imperialism  decolonization  schooling  history  whiteness  wealth  class 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Making the Ordinary Visible: Interview with Yasar Adanali : Making Futures
"Yaşar Adanalı defines his work over the past decade as being that of a “part time academic researcher and part time activist”. He is one of the founders of the Center for Spatial Justice in Istanbul, an urban institute that focuses on issues of spatial justice in Istanbul and beyond. In this interview, he reflects upon “continuance” as a tool of engagement, the power of attending to the ordinary within the production of space, and the different types of public that this works seeks to address.

What led to the founding of the Center for Spatial for Justice and how does its work relate to the worlds of academia, activism and urbanism?

I’m interested in questions regarding spatial production in general and more specifically justice – the injustices that derive from spatial processes or the spatial aspect of social injustices. The Center for Spatial Justice takes the acronym MAD in Turkish – a MAD organisation against mad projects, that’s our founding moto. We bring together people from different disciplines such as architects, urban planners, artists, journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and geographers to produce work in relation to what’s going here: grassroots struggles in the city and in the countryside. The Center for Spatial Justice believes in the interconnectedness of urban and rural processes.

As educator and an activist, you work both within and outside an institutional setting. Have you been able to take the latter experience back into the academy and if so, what in particular? How do these two roles inform each other?

Since 2014 I have been teaching a masters design studio at TU Darmstadt. It’s a participatory planning course that both follows and supports a cooperative housing project in Düzce, Turkey, produced for and by the tenants who were badly affected by the 1999 earthquake. Over the course of the past five years, the master students have been developing a 4000 sq m housing project from scratch. The students from Darmstadt come to Istanbul as interns, working partly on the project. The result is a long-lasting relationship with the neighbourhoods in question and with the organisations we have been working with.

Apart from that, through MAD and Beyond Istanbul we develop summer and winter schools – non-academic experiences that similarly bridge the gap between the alternative universe and the mainstream universe. When you start to put critical questions into the minds of the students, these linger and they then take them back to the university, so their friends and professors also become exposed to that. We prefer to develop this approach outside of the university so that we are freed from bureaucracy and rigid structures but we keep it open to enrolled students and professors.

What are some particular strategies and methodologies that you adopt to engender this approach to urban practice? How do you involve local residents, for example?

That building of long-term relationships with communities is why we do a lot of walking. Our research questions are informed by the community and the site we arrive at – we do not predetermine hypotheses in advance. We remain in direct contact with different groups in the city and walk through these territories – with the neighbourhood association – not just once but every week. We listen to a lot of stories and record them. Oral histories are an important part of the ethnographic enquiry.

We also use mapping, a tool commonly used to exert power but that nature can be reversed. Through mapping we reclaim territories that have perhaps been “erased” – that is, transformed by injustice. We also map informal areas and then give those maps to the communities there because the way they appear on official plans often doesn’t reflect how things look on the ground. What looks like a carpark in the plan might be someone’s house; what’s represented as a commercial development might currently be a neighbourhood park or some other form of already existing social infrastructure.

In addition, we try to embed journalistic means within our academic interests, which is why we work with documentary journalists and photographers on each of our projects. We broadcast spatial justice news videos, in depth films that offer 8-10 minutes of reporting on a particular issue, giving it context and also pointing towards possible solutions. Solution journalism, which doesn’t just focus on crisis, is very important in the work we do.

As part of its work making spatial injustices visible, MAD publishes a wide range of materials. Which are the publics you try to communicate with through this?

Research has to be coupled with a conscious effort to communicate because you want to make change. We don’t want to make research for the sake of research or produce publications for the sake of publishing. We want to create those publics you allude to – and to influence them. We are addressing people involved in the discipline in its broadest sense: planners, architects, sociologists, activists, but perhaps most especially students who are interested in spatial issues, urban questions and environmental concerns. They are our main target. We want them to understand that their discipline has much more potential than what they are learning at university. I’m not saying the entire education system is wrong but there is much larger perspective beyond it and great potential for collaboration with other disciplines and engagement with different publics as well.

Another important public is the one directly involved with our work, i.e. the community that is being threatened by renewal projects. These groups are not only our public but also our patrons – we are obliged to be at their service and offer technical support, whether that’s recording a meeting with the mayor or analysing a plan together. Then there is the larger audience of broader society, who we hope to encourage to think of and engage with these issues of inequality and spatial justice.

I found an interesting quote on your webpage that says that the founding of MAD “is an invitation to understand the ordinary in an extraordinary global city context”. Can you talk a little about the urban context of Istanbul, Turkey and why the focus on the ordinary?

Everything about Istanbul is extraordinary: transformation, speed, scale. We are interested in making the ordinary visible because when we focus so much on the mega-projects, on the idea of the global city, then the rest of the city is made invisible. We look beyond the city centre – the façade – and beyond the mainstream, dominant discourse. This “ordinary” is the neighbourhood, nature and that which lies beyond the spectacle – other Turkish cities, for example. This approach can entail initiatives that range from historical urban gardening practices, working with informal neighbourhoods subject to eviction and relocation processes, or rural communities on the very eastern border currently threatened by new mine projects.

More specifically, today we live in an extraordinary state. The public arena is in a deep crisis and the democratic institutions and their processes do not really deserve our direct involvement right now. Having said that, there are different pockets within these systems, municipal authorities that operate differently, for example, and when we find these we work with them, but we remain realistic with regards to our limits. The “now” in Turkey has been lost in the sense that its relevance is not linked to the future beyond or to the next generation. That is a deep loss. But if you have the vision and the production means, if you set up a strong system, build the capacity first of yourself and then of the groups your work with, then when the right moment comes, all of these elements will flourish."
urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  maps  mapping  neighborhoods  unschooling  deschooling  education  independence  lcproject  openstudioproject  justice  visibility  istanbul  turkey  ethnography  inquiry  erasure  injustice  infrastructure  socialinfrastructure  2018  rosariotalevi  speed  scale  transformation  walking  community  yasaradanali  space  placemaking  interconnectedness  interconnected  geography  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  socialjustice  architecture  design  film  law  legal  filmmaking  journalism  rural  engagement 
december 2018 by robertogreco
David Fickling on Twitter: "Australian hawks carry burning twigs to START FOREST FIRES and drive out prey https://t.co/puU5u0y38I Cool story bro, but ine of the most i… https://t.co/xXHcEJZZh6"
"Australian hawks carry burning twigs to START FOREST FIRES and drive out prey ªªhttp://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.2993/0278-0771-37.4.700?journalCode=etbi ºº

Cool story bro, but ine of the most interesting angles was totally missed in many reports:

Indigenous people have known about this behaviour since way, way back. It's "often represented in sacred ceremonies", per the article

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/wildfires-birds-animals-australia/
[image of text]

Three guesses how Australian officialdom deals with real-world information that Aboriginal people have known for generations and observe all the time... 🙄🙄
[image of text]

I can think of another -ism that doesn't start with "skeptic" in this instance...

Australians still vastly underestimate how intensively Aboriginal people cultivated the landscape through fire agriculture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGO2GbLRWcQ

One other thing: Cooperative hunting with dolphins was also quite common among Aboriginal people in eastern Australia: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/089279302786992694?journalCode=rfan20

I wish people would more often call this applied knowledge what it is: "technology" https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/technology [image of text]

BTW the paper abstract starts "We document Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and non-Indigenous observations..." so it's hard to argue this angle is a minor element of the research

The theme of the paper is literally "we should pay more attention to Indigenous knowledge" but somehow in translation it's become "LOL hawks are mad"

BTW here's a non-journalwalled summary of the research themes: https://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/2015/11/08/ornithogenic-fire-raptors-as-propagators-of-fire-in-the-australian-savanna/ "

[via "This behavior is fascinating and the thread that follows on both Aboriginal technology and colonialist racism is important."
https://twitter.com/Dymaxion/status/951172611391795200

via "cc: @rogre And now, for the rest of the story..."
https://twitter.com/symptomatic/status/951198470848819205 ]
animals  multispecies  moethanhuman  aborigines  davidfickling  via:sympotomatic  australia  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  technology  racism  colonialism  ecology  indigeneity  knowledge  erasure  indigenousknowledge  hawks  fire  landscape  dolphins 
january 2018 by robertogreco
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts: March 10, 2017
"The writer and theorist Fred Moten once wrote that "to be invisible is to be seen, instantly and fascinatingly recognized as the unrecognizable."

David Hammons is also interested in the nature of invisibility—what it’s made of, how it behaves, what it does to the world, what forms it takes. He keeps the invisible invisible, or, at least, the visible unrecognizable.

There are many (many!) invisible people in the world, but perhaps the most well-known might be Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man (1952). This is the subject of Fred Moten's lecture.

This is the ninth event in our year-long season about and around the work of David Hammons."

[video: https://vimeo.com/214239080 ]
fredmoten  davidhammons  invisibility  ralphellison  2017  wattisinstitute  race  visibility  racism  webdubois  frantzfanon  whiteness  blackness  jazz  milesdavis  louisarmstrong  icebergslim  music  aljarreau  jacoblawrence  wallacestevens  adreinhardt  art  erasure  aesthetics  artworld 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The endless arguments on social media, during which we all go back and forth with each other like…
"Take for example Jill Filipovic, who remains nothing more than a well-made caricature of every white liberal with a saviour complex. She smugly accused today’s socialist left of being “more 1930s than 60s”. “Remember who was excluded from political participation in the 30s?,” she asked. You could almost taste this patronising, flippant derision that is so common of those who turn out to be nothing more than gentrifying legacy hires with platforms they’ll never deserve. The response Filipovic received in light of this grotesquely ahistorical accusation was swift. Everyone from Corey Robin to local US organisers began chiming in with a blow to her argument more devastating than the last. And among the white socialists were Black, and PoC leftists, of many political affiliations, some of whom began to discuss their frustration with being denied the right to their own historical existence. And of the lucky few that Filipovic decided to respond to a majority of them were white. This is the shtick the rest of us have grown accustomed to. How else are you going to accuse socialists of being white men if you’re made to acknowledge the existence of Black and PoC socialists? Especially those of us who are not a part of the Bernie Sanders coalition, but to their left.

We don’t exist, but for the illustrations of us they use to peddle neoliberal policies, and centrist organising tactics that are about as spineless and cartoonish as their very ideology. Those of us who identify as leftists, who occupy numerous spaces on the margins of society, are made to feel as though we are both imaginated and irrelevant. They’ve chosen to deliberately, and maliciously misrepresent our radicalism for their own benefit. The white, socialist men are hijacking our PoC voices, they say, and yet you will never catch them engaging with us. We are only good enough to exist as garments — worn on occasion when they want to make it known that they are here to save us from this so-called white ideology.

It isn’t just Filipovic, but others, so many others, who choose to communicate and argue almost entirely with white men for the sake of further isolating us. They understand that our identities threaten the very heart of their assertion. So which is it? Are we invented or are we inconsequential? And what about those who came before us, from across the globe, whose battles have made so many aspects of our lives possible — Paul Robeson, Hussain Muruwwah, Frantz Fanon; Grace P. Campbell, Claudia Jones, Louise Thompson; Benita Galeana, Elvia Carrillo Puerto, Elena Torres. And so many others.

How long can you possibly keep this charade going? Soon enough no platform on this earth will be enough to drown out all of our voices."
roqayahchamseddine  2017  politics  poc  jillfilipovic  invisibility  erasure  paulrobeson  hussainmuruwwah  frantzfanon  gracecampbell  claudiajones  louisethompson  benitagaleana  elviacarrillopuerto  elenatorres  misrepresentation  radicalism  socialism  diversity  berniesanders  coreyrobin 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Verso: Dehumanization by Deification: On Kamala Harris and "Black Women Will Save Us"
"My introduction to the politics of Kamala Harris came from the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) and other sex worker organizations and activists in the wake of the federal shutdown of Backpage’s adult section in January. Backpage was a website that a number of sex workers used to advertise and screen potential clients. The closure and federal persecution of Backpage, Rentboy.com, and other similar online spaces meant that escorts and other sex workers were denied the ability to conduct their work with the degree of safety that comes with the virtual separation of workers and their would-be clients. As a newly elected California senator, Harris praised the shutdown of the adult section; previously, as California Attorney General, Harris repeatedly sued Backpage alleging that the website was profiting in the sex trafficking (and slapping its CEO, Carl Ferrer, with a pimping charge).

Despite arguments by sex workers that the closure of online work spaces would be harmful to them, Harris, like many others, claimed to support sex workers while actively making their lives more difficult: her prosecutorial logic deliberately conflated voluntary sex work and sex trafficking in a way that was indistinguishable from the rhetorics of sex work abolitionists and sex work exclusionary feminists (SWERFs). Her carceral justifications for these criminalizations were complementary to the outright anti-poor, anti-Black, anti-queer and trans attacks from the present administration and their material implications for sex workers. Yet Harris has swiftly been elevated as a kind of progressive feminist hero injecting new life into the party purporting to stand in stark ideological opposition to the one currently dominating most of the American government.

Harris has also been heavily criticized for her support for civil asset forfeiture (via her 2015 sponsorship of legislation seeking to battle transnational organized crime and meth trafficking) and her office’s refusal to expand early parole programs because the state would lose part of its heavily subsidized inmate labor force (she later claimed to be “shocked” that her department’s lawyers made this argument). She also contested the appeal for gender reconstructive surgery made by an incarcerated trans woman, Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, as well as similar requests from other incarcerated trans people. Despite her bipartisan effort with Republican Senator Rand Paul to eliminate pre-trial bail, people familiar with her pre-Senate record on criminal justice are reasonably skeptical of her — particularly given her refusal to proactively investigate police shooting in San Francisco during her tenure as state attorney general — and the buzz from establishment Democrats and “progressives” that has made her a new party darling and a soft potential 2020 presidential candidate.

“Black women will save us!” has been a kind of refrain both following the presidential election (where 94% of Black women voters supported Clinton) and the emergence of Maxine Waters and Harris as congressional gadflies outspokenly challenging the Republican Party in various hearings on Capitol Hill. As with Hillary Clinton, a gendered liberal rhetoric has emerged to defend Harris, claiming that she is being criticized because “leftist bros” are resentful of and threatened by female political leadership. Liberal commentators continue to conflate the most vocal and visible contingent of Bernie Sanders supporters — “Bernie Bros” — with the entirety of the left, and use this conflation to insist on dismissing “the left” on the grounds of racism. There is no denying that whiteness is reproduced (and the labor behind that reproduction invisibilized) throughout much of the left, but even if these critiques were made in good faith, it does not make sense to erase of leftists of color if one intends to further progressive discourses.

Roqayah Chamseddine wrote incisively on this dynamic where slightly left of center [white] pundits deliberately elide non-white contributions to left movements and discourses in the name of a left-baiting centered around specific politicians (namely, Bernie Sanders). She responds to Jill Filipovic’s revisionist erasure of Black and Brown contributions to 20th century left organizing, writing that leftists of color are not acknowledged for anything outside of "the illustrations of us they use to peddle neoliberal policies, and centrist organizing tactics that are about as spineless and cartoonish as their very ideology.” These savioristic declarations that the left is exclusionary demonstrate that leftists of color are "only good enough to exist as garments — worn on occasion when they want to make it known that they are here to save us from this so-called white ideology.”

There are critiques of Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton that simply reflect a contempt for women [of color], and those misogynies are of course unacceptable. But there is a duly irresponsible and unacceptable idea that an individual’s politics are beyond reproach because they possess a marginalized identity (or multiple ones). Just as it was warranted to criticize President Barack Obama’s defense of empire as president or LGBQT people’s homonationalist and pinkwashed participation in the police state or some white women’s embrace of white supremacy, it is both politically necessary and politically correct to make pointed critiques of a woman of color’s track record of advocating for and even embodying the carceral state. Ironically, many of these same white people — particularly liberal white women — pay lip service to “amplifying the voices of women of color," yet they, once again, erase our voices as soon as they realize that our opinions are not monolithic and we cannot be so easily objectified and dehumanized as the saviors of liberalism through empty rhetorics of representation and inclusion.

The refusal to acknowledge the violent politics of a woman of color because of her raced-gendered identity is comparably racist to a critique of woman of color that revolves solely around those identities: white supremacy, remember, knows no sectarian or ideological bounds. Dehumanization, whether through degradation or deification, reflects of bigoted regard for minoritized individuals or groups; it objectifies of the identities of women of color to suit one’s politics. It is both infantilizing and condescending to avoid holding women of color’s politics to the same standard of rigor as the white men we easily (and necessarily) critique. and rests on no meaningful understanding of hegemonic social structures. This superficial politics of representation (i.e. the idea that elevating minorities to positions of power is an unquestioned social good regardless of their politics) and a weird fetishization, rather than actual respect, for non-white womanhood.

There seems to be an irreconcilable dissonance in this white liberal logic: how can "Black women save ‘us’” if the complexity and heterogeneity of our discourses, identities, needs, and humanity are ignored to make room for our superficial insertion into and tokenization within anti-left “progressive” arguments and shallow pandering by the Democratic Party during election cycles? Beyond, once again, demonstrating the limitations of politician-centered politics, these identity-based politics of infallibility also softly seem to insinuate that women of color (and politicians of color in general) are impossibly fragile or less capable (or worthy) of receiving much-needed critique without being altogether abandoned or seen as disposable.

If we can criticize the ineffectuality of the Democratic Party, can we not also criticize the non-white figures they tap to push those same dissatisfying politics on the party’s behalf?

The role of a state attorney general is to act as the state’s premiere law enforcement officer, and in occupying this position, Harris was essentially enforcing the will of a racist and anti-poor state “justice” system (the most populous state and one of the most expansive carceral states, at that). To pretend that only white men could possibly articulate a radical critique of this political track record and trajectory is wildly disingenuous. We will surely see Kamala Harris’ name all over the news in the coming years, but more important than the political advancement of the new progressive superstar is the revelation of white liberalism’s complete inability to engage non-white women both within the public political arena and outside of it."
zoésamudzi  2017  politics  left  leftism  race  erasure  racism  kamalaharris  liberalism  policy  democrats  hillaryclinton  roqayahchamseddine  jillfilipovic  poc  progressives  progressivism 
august 2017 by robertogreco
avoiding the high-brow freak show | sara hendren
"Oliver Sacks is probably the only author many people have read about disability at length. Sacks wrote many books with such a keen eye for description and also a literate, humanitarian lens—he was able to link together ideas in natural history, the sciences, and the humanities with sincerity and warmth, and always with people at the center. But which people? The subjects of the book, or the reader who is “reading” herself, her own experiences, as she takes in these stories? In any good book, many characters are involved: author, characters, reader. But there’s some particular tricky territory in disability narratives.

It’s challenging to write about this subject for a mainstream audience, perhaps because there are so many well-rehearsed pitfall tropes in characterizing bodily and developmental differences. Descriptions of physicality, speech, or idiosyncratic movement can slide so easily into spectacle. And revealing the ways that disabled people* cope, make sense, and create joy and humor in their lives can collapse into inspiration, easily won.

I’m thinking about Sacks as I write my own words, interpreting my own many encounters with disabled people in a way that both engages readers for whom the subject is ostensibly new, and that also does justice to the integrity and singularity of those people involved. I’m trying to write about disability and its reach into the wider human experience, that is, without making individual people into metaphors. Now: those ideas might be laudable—interdependent life, a critique of individualism, all bodies and lived experiences as endless variation, necessarily incomplete in their own ways—but they are ideas nonetheless. How to make this tradeoff? How to help the uninitiated reader by saying See, see here, your life is caught up in these stakes too, but without flattening the individual subjects on whom those ideas are based?

I keep circling around this review in the LRB of Sacks’s An Anthropologist on Mars and The Island of the Colorblind—analysis of which includes his book Awakenings and could also be applied to The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. Jenny Diski admires Sacks’s projects and his craft, but she also has this to say:
“A story needs a conclusion whereas a case-history may not have one. In fact, stories have all kinds of needs that a case-history will not supply, and Sacks is insistent that he is writing the stories of his patients, not their cases. This is not intended to fudge fact and fiction, but to enlarge patients into people.

On the other hand, he is describing people with more or less devastating illnesses— that is his raison d’être—and his explicit purpose is to generalize from these, usually unhappy, accidents of life and nature, to a greater understanding of the human condition. In Awakenings he states: ‘If we seek a “curt epitome” of the human condition—of long-standing sickness, suffering and sadness; of a sudden, complete, almost preternatural “awakening”; and, alas! of entanglements which may follow this “cure”—there is no better one than the story of these patients.’

He is offering life, death and the whole damn thing in the metaphor of his patients. And it is true that these patients and others show us what it is like, as he says, ‘to be human and stay human in the face of adversity’. But metaphors are not in fact descriptions of people in their totality. They are intentional, and consciously or unconsciously edited tropes, not complete, contained narratives.

I don’t know any kind of narrative, fictional or otherwise, that can present people in their totality, so perhaps it doesn’t matter, but Sacks is offering us people because of their sickness and the manner of their handling it. This is hardly an overturning of the medicalizing tendency of doctors. And when we read these stories, as we do, to tell us more about ourselves, we read them as exaggerations of what we are, as metaphors for what we are capable of. Their subjects may not be patients as freaks, but they are patients as emblems. They are, as it were, for our use and our wonderment. Around their illness, the thoughts of Leibniz, Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Proust are hoisted like scaffolding, as if to stiffen their reality into meaning.”

Stiffening their reality into meaning! It’s a cutting and exact criticism, especially when it seems that Sacks was utterly sincere in his search for human and humane connection—with these patients as clinical subjects and in his engagement with readers.

Diski hints at the pushback Sacks got from scholars in disability studies, too; scholar Tom Shakespeare took a swipe at him as “the man who mistook his patients for a career,” calling his body of work a “high-brow freak show.” And when I re-read Sacks’s New Yorker essay, excerpted from the Anthropologist book, on autistic self-advocate Temple Grandin, I see a little bit what Shakespeare meant. There is something of the microscope being employed in that encounter, and somehow we walk away fascinated but maybe less than conjoined to Grandin’s experience. It’s rich with connection and with pathos (in a good way!), but there’s distance in it too. So—it’s not perfect.

And yet: people read and loved that book, saw themselves in it. And Grandin went on to write several books in her own voice, to have a wide audience for her work and wisdom. The visibility of autistic self-advocacy has been greatly amplified since Sacks’s writing about it. (And yet—also—Diski says that Sacks has a way of making meaning out of disability that’s essentially a wonder at the human body via its ailments, as in “My God, we are extraordinary, look how interestingly wrong we can go.”) Is there a way to affirm the extraordinary without ending at: there but for the grace of god…? Without ending with gratitude that we don’t share someone’s plight? I want readers to come away uncertain: about where there’s joy and where there’s pain, about how they might make different choices, ordinary and extraordinary choices, if handed a different set of capacities in themselves or in their loved ones.

But can a writer really calibrate that level of nuance? Lately I’m thinking that I can only write what I can write, knowing that it will be incomplete and partial in its rendering.

I want a world full of disabled voices, people telling their stories in their own ways, with their own voices intact. But I also want a world of people to read about the collective stakes inherent in disability—and not just the rights issues that are being ignored, urgent as they are. I want people to see that spending time thinking about disability is an invitation to see the world differently, and to locate one’s own experiences differently. Not to erase the particularity of any one person’s very material experiences, but to help remedy the invisibility of disabled experience outside the inner circle of people who talk to one another, who know that these issues are important. And some audiences will need some interpretation, some cognitive-linguistic bridges to understand the import of disability—its wonder, its overlooked importance, and yes, even its lessons, if we may call them such. Lessons without moralizing, lessons without abstractions.

*Yes, “disabled people,” not “differently abled” or even always “people with disabilities.” There’s no one right answer or moniker, but soon I’ll write a short piece on why “disabled people” is a preferred term among many activists."

[See also this response from Alan Jacobs: http://blog.ayjay.org/writing-by-the-always-wrong/ ]
sarahendren  oliversacks  disability  2017  diversity  morality  moralizing  difference  humanism  individualism  interdependence  variation  jennydiski  conclusions  case-histories  sickness  sadness  suffering  life  death  storytelling  narrative  tomshakespeare  templegrandin  pathos  correction  autism  self-advocacy  meaning  meaningmaking  uncertainty  joy  pain  grace  writing  howewrite  voice  invisibility  visibility  erasure  experience  alanjacobs  disabilities 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Arash Daneshzadeh on Twitter: "The canon of John Dewey is trash, stop hyping his basicness. Especially when we have far more critical scholars of melanin. [A thread]"
[***d sections, separated out, are those that I retweeted on Twitter]

"The canon of John Dewey is trash, stop hyping his basicness. Especially when we have far more critical scholars of melanin. [A thread]

When I read Dewey (revered as the granddaddy of progressive education) I notice how “white” (read: basic) curriculum studies is.

***There is an expectation that we should all know the authors of school desegregation curriculum (many of whom are white) but no expectation that students know anti-racist and decolonial scholars like Freire, Du Bois or Lorde.***

As I read John Dewey and others, I experience an unenthusiastic physical reaction to their unimaginative words and ideas on education, as they fundamentally contradict the dialectic relationship between learners and systems. Perhaps because their notions of teaching and learning were associated primarily w the reproduction of social hierarchies through models of efficiency and democratic nation-building in order to anchor capitalism—a logic of white supremacy—in place.

Racial hegemony was accomplished not only through relations of accumulation of property and capital, but also through knowledge/knowledge production which caping for dry Dewey analysis advances. As Said highlighted, colonialism was not simply about the removal of ivory and slaves, but also about the need to "improve" populations, an explicit relationship between property and knowledge.

***Ngugi makes similar suggestions, that the colonial improvement project took place through the “cultural bomb” that reshaped existing structures of human knowledge through a misrepresentation of reality and the erasure of memories of pre-colonial cultures and history, a way of installing the dominance of new, more insidious forms of colonialism.***

The issue isn't simply regarding Whitening ed curriculum, but rather privileging this social history in the formation of education, as well as the formulation of a list that articulates which knowledge is most worthy of knowing.

In Democracy and Education, Dewey emphasizes a relationship between schooling and democracy as central to nation-building. For Dewey, democracy meant the development and expansion of the nation, in which schooling (and its democratization) was a site that could further develop the nation. Within liberal democracies, capitalism is the way civilization aspires to organize itself economically, and democracy becomes the model of choice for political power. Such aspirations need to be thought about carefully. This is because the promotion of democracy that Dewey advocated is premised on hierarchical and elective approaches to governance that are inherently linked to the capitalist order, in turn marginalizing other modes of existence.

There is a stark contrast between curriculum that emerges from the work of Black scholars and curriculum that happens to "include" Black scholars.

***Janet Miller writes about working in “communities of dissensus”--the idea that rather than working toward reconciliation we must push discomfort through confronting white fears and insecurities when it comes to dealing with centering Black epistemologies.***

As a doctoral student in Education, I struggled with feelings of belonging and non-belonging, placeness & placelessness like my grad students. Throughout my doctoral journey of critique and resistance, my alienation grew further as my white peers (primarily teachers) all seemed to relate their practice to these theories.

***Anti-colonial thinkers Said, Fanon and Wynter suggest that White epistemologies, ontologies and axiologies created universal values defined what l it meant to be human and who constituted the human through what Wynter calls the "descriptive statement".***

This descriptive statement of the human is based upon the biocentric model to which the name "race" has been given.

Knowledge arrangements have been shaped by the epistemic constitution of caping for liberal multicultural capitalists like Dewey on the basis of the ordering of disciplinary fields. Even the term “canon” itself connotes a certain ideological foundation.

***Since white liberals like Dewey's basic self are some of the primary actors that have served to maintain the Western-bourgeois system of Human-making (through standards, and disciplines), they must radically unlearn by moving beyond schooling to identify "human-ness". Tuck calls this participatory unlearning process via an anti-colonial curriculum, a “methodology of rematriation/repatriation”. ***

Finally, Dewey is basic and his scholarship was trash. But mostly, there is no solidarity w/out curriculum constructed in(not on) communities."

[Response to my retweet (specifically of the Ngugi line): "@A_Daneshzadeh @rogre yes! been teaching this particular aspect for years, powerful & true, was blessed to have Ngugi as prof many yrs ago"
https://twitter.com/DenengeTheFirst/status/810197262311784449 ]
arashdaneshzadeh  johndewey  audrelorde  place  frantzfanon  edwardsaid  janetmiller  canons  education  ngugi  rematriation  repatriation  capitalism  sylviawynter  curriculum  race  racism  resistance  canon  multiculturalism  humanness  unlearning  participatory  values  belonging  civilization  society  schools  deschooling  unschooling  horizontality  hierarchy  marginalization  governance  democracy  evetuck  schooling  sfsh  cv  alienation  webdubois  paulofreire  erasure  reality  whitesupremacy  ngũgĩwathiong'o  ngugiwathiong’o  ngũgĩ 
december 2016 by robertogreco
What do free, open, and peaceful borders look like?
"Valerio Vincenzo's project, Borderline, the Frontiers of Peace, consists of photos of the erased borders between countries in Europe's Schengen Area.

The Schengen Area is the area comprising 26 European countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at their common borders, also referred to as internal borders. It mostly functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy.

While visiting friends in France a few years ago, we passed the checkpoint between France and Switzerland several times a day and didn't even bother taking our passports with us. It felt weird but good. (via @neilhalloran)"
borders  2016  jasonkottke  valeriovincenzo  erasure  europe  schengenarea 
february 2016 by robertogreco
A Low and Distant Paradise - Pacific Standard
"My grandmother was born to the Italian lira, grew up under the British pound, revolted against the Ethiopian birr, lived under the American dollar in order to raise me, and died, finally, buried under her country’s first currency, the Eritrean nakfa. She was home to me, my link to a land generations had fought for and to the sand in Florida on which I played. A reminder of how far and against what odds my blood had traveled for the promise of autonomy. And now she was gone.

It’s been 12 years since I lived in Miami, and yet enough of the city is embedded in me that I feel at home wherever I stand in it. It’s in every exhalation. I feel this connection to the land and my past more than any kinship with my remaining family. I am at once grateful for the freedom and devastated by this tangible unmooring of blood. It is only appropriate that things feel adrift.

Erasure is a prickly topic for members of the African diaspora. We want recognition, we who have lost so much to attain it and are severed from those who know this best. I still look for my country every time I see a globe. Did we exist yet? Were we our own? It is a validation I can’t stop myself from seeking having grown up in a state intent on its own destruction.

One can look to Hawaii’s volcanoes to see exactly how land is formed. Florida, then, is where we look to see land’s undoing. In Florida, we are racing New Orleans into the sea. I tell most inquirers South Florida is what happens when people build cities on sponges and call it salvation. I tell them we will learn."



"It is clear to me that the history of Eritrea and Eritreans in the 21st century has stopped being one of how to win, but of how we might lose the least by the end of the century’s first quarter. Here in America, I am the only person with whom each member of my immediate family interacts. Two out of the three live on separate continents. Sometimes I’ll like a new song because it is the type my sister would play and I need a thread to hold on to. Some streets I’ll walk, as my father taught me, because they show more of the sky. But most days I’ll hold the weightless braid of my family in my palm and wonder when it will find the wind. I am trying to keep my own two halves from fracturing; I never learned to excavate the dread.

It all feels like too much.

When politicians campaign on platforms of keeping Africans out of their country. When the anti­-blackness in the surrounding MENA region goes largely unreported. When the refugee camps in the country you gained independence from are overflowing with your people. When the journey to South Africa, a popular refuge for African migrants, is met with xenophobic attacks. When crossing the Red Sea into Yemen means entering a war zone; when Yemenis are crossing the Red Sea into the Horn you fled. When human traffickers are harvesting your organs in the Sinai. When the open ports of Libya have no despot to keep you on your side of the grave. When drowning is the best option. When the world asks wouldn't it be convenient to stay in place? To see your doom as your salvation? Now that they have all tried their hand at exploiting your land, your people, your geography—and since autonomy can only be granted by those who have control over the physical world. After all this, how, how, how. How can we keep you there?"
2015  rahawahaile  eritrea  diaspora  place  identity  belonging  cities  climate  miami  nyc  asmara  family  freedom  ethiopia  migration  immigration  refugees  history  yemen  redsea  joandidion  race  climatechange  inequality  water  labor  work  economics  politics  everglades  hawaii  erasure  florida 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Men (Still) Explain Technology to Me: Gender and Education Technology | boundary 2
"There’s that very famous New Yorker cartoon: “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” The cartoon was first published in 1993, and it demonstrates this sense that we have long had that the Internet offers privacy and anonymity, that we can experiment with identities online in ways that are severed from our bodies, from our material selves and that, potentially at least, the internet can allow online participation for those denied it offline.

Perhaps, yes.

But sometimes when folks on the internet discover “you’re a dog,” they do everything in their power to put you back in your place, to remind you of your body. To punish you for being there. To hurt you. To threaten you. To destroy you. Online and offline.

Neither the internet nor computer technology writ large are places where we can escape the materiality of our physical worlds—bodies, institutions, systems—as much as that New Yorker cartoon joked that we might. In fact, I want to argue quite the opposite: that computer and Internet technologies actually re-inscribe our material bodies, the power and the ideology of gender and race and sexual identity and national identity. They purport to be ideology-free and identity-less, but they are not. If identity is unmarked it’s because there’s a presumption of maleness, whiteness, and perhaps even a certain California-ness. As my friend Tressie McMillan Cottom writes, in ed-tech we’re all supposed to be “roaming autodidacts”: happy with school, happy with learning, happy and capable and motivated and well-networked, with functioning computers and WiFi that works.

By and large, all of this reflects who is driving the conversation about, if not the development of these technology. Who is seen as building technologies. Who some think should build them; who some think have always built them.

And that right there is already a process of erasure, a different sort of mansplaining one might say."



"Ironically—bitterly ironically, I’d say, many pieces of software today increasingly promise “personalization,” but in reality, they present us with a very restricted, restrictive set of choices of who we “can be” and how we can interact, both with our own data and content and with other people. Gender, for example, is often a drop down menu where one can choose either “male” or “female.” Software might ask for a first and last name, something that is complicated if you have multiple family names (as some Spanish-speaking people do) or your family name is your first name (as names in China are ordered). Your name is presented how the software engineers and designers deemed fit: sometimes first name, sometimes title and last name, typically with a profile picture. Changing your username—after marriage or divorce, for example—is often incredibly challenging, if not impossible.

You get to interact with others, similarly, based on the processes that the engineers have determined and designed. On Twitter, you cannot direct message people, for example, that do not follow you. All interactions must be 140 characters or less.

This restriction of the presentation and performance of one’s identity online is what “cyborg anthropologist” Amber Case calls the “templated self.” She defines this as “a self or identity that is produced through various participation architectures, the act of producing a virtual or digital representation of self by filling out a user interface with personal information.”

Case provides some examples of templated selves:
Facebook and Twitter are examples of the templated self. The shape of a space affects how one can move, what one does and how one interacts with someone else. It also defines how influential and what constraints there are to that identity. A more flexible, but still templated space is WordPress. A hand-built site is much less templated, as one is free to fully create their digital self in any way possible. Those in Second Life play with and modify templated selves into increasingly unique online identities. MySpace pages are templates, but the lack of constraints can lead to spaces that are considered irritating to others.


As we—all of us, but particularly teachers and students—move to spend more and more time and effort performing our identities online, being forced to use preordained templates constrains us, rather than—as we have often been told about the Internet—lets us be anyone or say anything online. On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog unless the signup process demanded you give proof of your breed. This seems particularly important to keep in mind when we think about students’ identity development. How are their identities being templated?

While Case’s examples point to mostly “social” technologies, education technologies are also “participation architectures.” Similarly they produce and restrict a digital representation of the learner’s self.

Who is building the template? Who is engineering the template? Who is there to demand the template be cracked open? What will the template look like if we’ve chased women and people of color out of programming?"



"One interesting example of this dual approach that combines both social and technical—outside the realm of ed-tech, I recognize—are the tools that Twitter users have built in order to address harassment on the platform. Having grown weary of Twitter’s refusal to address the ways in which it is utilized to harass people (remember, its engineering team is 90% male), a group of feminist developers wrote The Block Bot, an application that lets you block, en masse, a large list of Twitter accounts who are known for being serial harassers. That list of blocked accounts is updated and maintained collaboratively. Similarly, Block Together lets users subscribe to others’ block lists. Good Game Autoblocker, a tool that blocks the “ringleaders” of GamerGate.

That gets, just a bit, at what I think we can do in order to make education technology habitable, sustainable, and healthy. We have to rethink the technology. And not simply as some nostalgia for a “Web we lost,” for example, but as a move forward to a Web we’ve yet to ever see. It isn’t simply, as Isaacson would posit it, rediscovering innovators that have been erased, it’s about rethinking how these erasures happen all throughout technology’s history and continue today—not just in storytelling, but in code.

Educators should want ed-tech that is inclusive and equitable. Perhaps education needs reminding of this: we don’t have to adopt tools that serve business goals or administrative purposes, particularly when they are to the detriment of scholarship and/or student agency—technologies that surveil and control and restrict, for example, under the guise of “safety”—that gets trotted out from time to time—but that have never ever been about students’ needs at all. We don’t have to accept that technology needs to extract value from us. We don’t have to accept that technology puts us at risk. We don’t have to accept that the architecture, the infrastructure of these tools make it easy for harassment to occur without any consequences. We can build different and better technologies. And we can build them with and for communities, communities of scholars and communities of learners. We don’t have to be paternalistic as we do so. We don’t have to “protect students from the Internet,” and rehash all the arguments about stranger danger and predators and pedophiles. But we should recognize that if we want education to be online, if we want education to be immersed in technologies, information, and networks, that we can’t really throw students out there alone. We need to be braver and more compassionate and we need to build that into ed-tech. Like Blockbot or Block Together, this should be a collaborative effort, one that blends our cultural values with technology we build.

Because here’s the thing. The answer to all of this—to harassment online, to the male domination of the technology industry, the Silicon Valley domination of ed-tech—is not silence. And the answer is not to let our concerns be explained away. That is after all, as Rebecca Solnit reminds us, one of the goals of mansplaining: to get us to cower, to hesitate, to doubt ourselves and our stories and our needs, to step back, to shut up. Now more than ever, I think we need to be louder and clearer about what we want education technology to do—for us and with us, not simply to us."
education  gender  technology  edtech  2015  audreywatters  history  agency  ambercase  gamergate  society  power  hierarchy  harassment  siliconvalley  privilege  safety  collaboration  identity  tressiemcmillancottom  erasure  inclusion  inclusivity  templates  inlcusivity 
april 2015 by robertogreco
MoMA’s ‘There Will Never Be Silence,’ About John Cage - NYTimes.com
"Seventy years later, Cage is back at MoMA, the subject of an exhibition that charts the influence of Duchamp and other visual artists on his experiments with chance operations that culminated in his groundbreaking and still-controversial four minutes and 33 seconds of silence....

The final nudge toward Cage’s silent work came from Robert Rauschenberg, whom he met in 1951, while the artist was working on his white paintings. These smooth, monochrome canvases went a step further than Barnett Newman’s “The Voice,” which is also part of the show. That painting is almost entirely white, too, but the variations in brush strokes and a subtly vertical line running down one side like a scar give the viewer’s eye plenty to engage with.

By contrast, Rauschenberg’s white paintings were not articulated in any way, Mr. Platzker said. “Cage recognized that what Rauschenberg had done was remove all the elements of ‘art,’ ” he said. “And that if you put up a painting like that in a room, it’s going to interact with the light and dust particles in the air.”

In August 1952, Cage presented the first of his multimedia Happenings at Black Mountain and used Rauschenberg’s white paintings as a backdrop. (Soon afterward came the premiere of “4’33” ” in Woodstock.)...

The second part of the exhibition looks at the Fluxus movement and traces Cage’s own influence on artists, beginning with those he taught in his course on experimental composition at the New School. MoMA’s collection includes notebooks from that course, photographs of the class itself and pieces directly derived from it by students including George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, Dick Higgins and others.

Yoko Ono and La Monte Young provide playful examples of verbal instructions. Ms. Ono’s book “Grapefruit” is open to a page containing “Kitchen Piece,” dating from the winter of 1960. “Hang a canvas on a wall,” she writes. “Throw all the leftovers you have in the kitchen that day on the canvas. You may prepare special food for the piece.”"

[See also: https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2014/01/03/composing-silence-john-cage-and-black-mountain-college-3/ ]
johncage  eventscores  erasure  silence  music  blackmountaincollege  2014  bmc  art  happenings  moma  marcelduchamp  barnettnewman  yokoono  lamonteyoung  robertrauschenberg  via:shannon_mattern  fluxus 
january 2014 by robertogreco
MoMA | Composing Silence: John Cage and Black Mountain College
"In the summer of 1951 at Black Mountain College, Rauschenberg began a series of entirely white paintings. (His 1965 instructions for the White Paintings are on view adjacent to the album in the exhibition.) Only a few months prior, Cage was introduced to Rauschenberg at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, initiating a period of close exchange that lasted throughout both artists’ lives. Upon witnessing the development of the White Paintings, Cage was taken aback by the younger artist’s bold abandonment of figuration. He recognized that the White Paintings were not, in fact, devoid of form, but rather served, in his words, as “mirrors of the air” and “airports for the lights, shadows, and particles.” As early as February 1948, Cage introduced the theoretical foundations for 4′33″—to “compose a piece of uninterrupted silence”—during a lecture at Vassar College. However, he claimed that it was not until seeing Rauschenberg’s White Paintings that he had the courage to explore silence within his own work.

In August 1952, Cage returned to Black Mountain College and organized Theater Piece No. 1, an unscripted performance considered by many to be the first Happening. The event took place in the college dining hall and included Rauschenberg, Cunningham, and Cage’s frequent collaborator, the young pianist David Tudor, among others. As Kyle Gann described in his book No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage’s 4′33″, the audience was seated in four triangular sections, while Cage stood on a ladder at the center. From his elevated position, Cage delivered a lecture as artists, musicians, and dancers moved freely through the space—which featured at least one of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings—deflecting attention from any single narrative and complicating the distinction between art and life. Just weeks after the production of Theater Piece No. 1, David Tudor encouraged Cage that the timing was right for Tudor to publicly perform Cage’s “silent” piece during his upcoming program at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York.

There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33″ reunites many of the figures and works that influenced Cage between 1948—the year in which he first discussed his idea for 4′33″—and its premiere on August 29, 1952."

[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/arts/music/momas-there-will-never-be-silence-about-john-cage.html?pagewanted=all ]
johncage  silence  happenings  performance  music  erasure  bmc  blackmountaincollege  2014  robertrauschenberg  via:shannon_mattern  josefalbers  annialbers 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Professional Identity: A Luxury Few Can Afford | Vitae
"In a post-employment economy ridden with arbitrary credentialism, a résumé is often not a reflection of achievement but a document sanctioning its erasure. One is not judged on what one has accomplished, but on one’s ability to walk a path untouched by the incongruities of market forces. The service job you worked to feed your family? Embarrassing. The months you struggled to find any work at all? Laziness. The degree you began a decade ago for a field that has since lost half its positions? Failure of clairvoyance. Which is to say: failure.

Scholars leaving academia in the hopes of other lines of work agonize over how to sell themselves in a market that finds them somehow both overqualified and undervalued. Media outlets proclaim that the national employment crisis is caused not by a lack of jobs, but lack of candidates with the skills to fill them. According to NBC, “employers are complaining about job candidates' inability to speak and to write clearly.” According to Time, employers cannot find candidates who are “problem solvers and can plan, organize, and prioritize their work.”

If that is truly the cause of the unemployment crisis, one would think that Ph.D.’s would be in a position to solve it. After all, clear communication, independent problem-solving, and strong organizational skills are necessary to finish the degree. Yet Ph.D.’s are frequently cautioned to leave their doctoral degree off their résumé. The struggle with the transition to nonacademic work is so fraught with anxiety that there are multiple consulting groups dedicated to helping scholars through it.

According to journalist Simon Kuper, this anxiety is not particular to academia but part of a broader anguish over identity in an era of unemployment: “With the economic crisis and technological change, ever fewer of us have satisfying jobs or stay in the same profession for life. People are ceasing to be their jobs. That is forcing them to find new identities.”

The market advantage then falls to those born immune from market forces: the independently wealthy, representative of what Kuper calls “a class divide [that] separates people who choose their job from people who don’t.”

People who “choose their job” are people who can afford, quite literally, to choose programs and positions that give them an unwavering, consistent ”professional identity.” Privilege is recast as perseverance: It is no coincidence that 80 percent of companies bemoaning the surfeit of “unqualified” candidates prefer them to them to have completed at least one internship. But the consistent professional identity that companies and universities value is one that most of us cannot afford if it means a series of unpaid internships and low-paid positions."



"This is not new—résumé manipulation is as old as résumés. But there is something far more damaging going on in this era when both contingent employment and “skills gaps” are suddenly on the rise, when technological “disruption” is divine but career disruption is a sin. Being ashamed of who we are has become the ticket to who we are allowed to become. That is true both in academia and outside it.

It is almost impossible to reconcile the cruelty of a system that punishes you for self-preservation with the material need to survive within it. But the least we can do is not internalize its failures as our own. You are not your job. Do not let your job—or lack thereof—convince you otherwise."
economics  employement  resumes  2013  sarahkendzior  labor  identity  work  privilege  simonkuper  alexandrakimbell  erasure  crendentials  credentialism  academia  internships  qualifications  self-preservation 
december 2013 by robertogreco

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