Friday, March 30, 2012

Making Worlds: how to see and experience realities

Tuesday, 3 April – Whose Worlds? Intersectionality and multiple identities
• Read Reed Ch 5-6: American Indian Movement & Film; Global Rock Activisms 
• Look at artists in Perez, Ch 4: Tierra, Land. Pick the artwork that speaks to you most. Learn about it and tell us. 

Art can speak powerfully about the worlds we live in, the differences among worlds created by uneven power and social structures, the forms of oppression and privilege that identities entail, and the histories in which some groups thrive at the expense of others.

How does intersectionality help us understand these complexities? How do we live as individuals and as groups at the intersections?

 How can we literally know more about realities and worlds?  

How does the experience we have embarked upon, culminating in Assignment Three, help us to figure this out, experiment and experience, reflect on how we work on all this, how we create processes of inclusion, solidarity, using intersectionality?  

• First twenty minutes today to make sure everyone has a partner or team. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET BECOME A MEMBER OF A PARTNERSHIP OR TEAM, CONTACT YOUR TA IMMEDIATELY! Your ability to get any credit for assignment three depends on your taking responsibility for this. If you have a class buddy who hasn't done this yet, please make sure they hear about this. An email reminder about this has been sent out on course mail too!

• Identity cards, and art activisms and curations lists handed out today too, along with copy of assignment three. [all but cards are available for download with links too.]


Celia Herrera Rodríguez of NEW FIRE from emiloid encina on Vimeo.

Vimeo: "Celia Herrera Rodríguez is the Costume and Set Designer of NEW FIRE - the latest production by playwright Cherríe Moraga. Please support Xican@ Indigenous Art and our cast of Master Indigenous Artists by donating or spreading the word on our Kickstarter campaign: "

Kickstarter: "A World Premiere Play
NEW FIRE – To Put Things Right Again
Written and Directed by Cherríe Moraga
Designed by Celia Herrera Rodríguez

"After a fifteen-year hiatus, Cherríe Moraga returns to Brava Theater Center to help celebrate its 25th anniversary with her fourth Brava World Premiere production, NEW FIRE – To Put Things Right Again. Co-produced by the new-to-the Bay Area, cihuatl productions, NEW FIRE follows the sacred geography of Indigenous American ancestors to tell a post-modern story of rupture and homecoming. Of her return to Brava, Playwright, Cherríe Moraga, states: “It’s about coming home, returning to the same place, but as a different person, a different artist. The world has changed so dramatically in fifteen years, and I, along with it. I am older, yes… and the work, more mature as well. I have, with my collaborators, discovered the poetry of movement, of visuals, the music of silence, even as I continue to write with words. It’s a beautiful thing to return to Brava -- this woman’s theater -- changed in this way, to celebrate a homecoming with a play that requires return for each of us – man, woman, elder and the young.”

Alma Lopez. 1997. California Fashion Slaves
Perez 2007: 146: "The ideas of knowing your place and having a place are tied together and suggest that the personal sense of being at home, whether in society or in your body, whether it is a female, a queer, an immigrant, or a negatively racialized minority body, or a combination of these, is shaped by our sense of belonging socially. This sense of belonging is not untied from our historical relationship to the places in which we dwell."


Hooks 1984. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. South End Press.

Mexican segregation in Texas
Her story here about the small Kentucky town is a now classic statement of what feminists sometimes call "standpoint theory." Here she makes it clear that segregation meant that black people moved across the railroad tracks, and -- correctly -- saw the town on both sides. The town was literally larger to them than it was to the white people who stayed on their side of the railroad tracks, whose reality was thus more narrow and circumscribed. This violates any assumptions that "privilege" or having more or being advantaged means that you "know more" -- usually understood as having been better educated or schooled. But this work on standpoint claims that such education doesn't account for the knowledges about living in the world that are greater among oppressed people: what is sometimes called "subjugated knowledge."

This does not mean, however, that having privilege means having no way to know what subjugated people know. Or that oppressed people are even always aware of what it is that they know in these ways. Standpoint theory says that all of us need to raise our consciousness, to learn more about how to know what we know as oppressed people, and how to acquire knowledge about what we don't know as privileged ones.

This happens in many ways that require our struggles together: in the work of political solidarity, such as in coalition politics, in the kinds of consciousness-raising done in CR groups, in the kinds of multi-issue broad base mass movement work hooks calls feminist movement, in multicultural education where we learn about the histories of social movements and struggles for social justice, in work on intersectionalities: personal, collective, policy and research oriented, legal, activist, even philosophical or psychological. Different feminisms tend to consider some of these more important than others, often with an eye to the identities, movements, social justice issues they find most urgent.

Reed 2005, 152: "One of the most profound aspects of collective, social movement action, at least from my experience, is the feeling political theorist Hannah Arendt referred to as 'public happiness,' the sense of exhilaration that comes when one throws one's whole being into a principled cause. This feeling is seldom captured in film, with its bias toward individualized storytelling. But a sense of community, so much a part of native nations as well as social movement cultures, is conveyed well in the film [Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee]. It is summed up by Mary's remark that she never felt more 'free' thatn when inside the Wounded Knee camp. That one can indeed feel most 'free' when in jail for civil disobedience or when surrounded by the trigger-happy federal marshals and the FBI agents is a paradox of social activism rarely portrayed in the mass media.... the film's narrative moves toward collective power and communal responsibility." [American Indian / Native American Activism]

He/Man language: generic masculine: unmarked & marked categories: 
Martyna 1980, 489: "Empirical explorations of how we comprehend the generic masculine also indicate its sex exclusiveness. My studies of pronoun usage show striking sex differences in both the use and understanding of the generic masculine. Females use 'he' less often than do males, and turn more frequently to alternatives such as 'he or she' and 'they.' Males have an easier time imagining themselves as members of the category referenced by generic 'he.' Seven times as many males as females say they see themselves in response to sex-neutral sentences referring to a 'person', or 'human being.' In general, males appear to be using and understanding 'he' in its specific more often than in its generic sense. Females both avoid the use of 'he' and respond to its use with a more generic than specific interpretation."

(488): "Cognitive confusion is another consequence of the generic masculine, one particularly relevant for the academic disciplines. Joan Huber, for example, has characterized the use of 'he' and 'man' as 'an exercise in doublethink that muddles sociological discourse.' She cites the recent sociology text which proclaims: 'The more education an individual attains, the better his occupation is likely to be, and the more money he is likely to earn.' The statement is accurate only if the individual is male."

"Man can do several things which the animal cannot do....Eventually, his vital interests are not only life, food, access to females, etc., but also values, symbols, institutions." [Miller, Swift 1980: 12] 

[See also Wikipedia: Gender Neutrality in English ; and Markedness ]

unmarked categories: am I included? 
gender: man/(wo)man -- (cis)gendered/(trans)gendered
race: white/people of color
sex: sexuality/(homo)sexuality
ability: able/(dis)abled
class: middle class/working class 
age: young adult/children and the old
religion: Xtian/("heathen") range of religions and non-religions, from Jews and Muslims to atheists and nontheists and more
language in US: English (monolingual)/range of languages in multiple knowledges, from Spanish to Spanglish to bilingual to multi-lingual -- often coded for immigration status and race
nationality: citizen/non-citizens of many sorts, especially immigrants of various kinds

Notice how many people fall through the gaps between these? Mixed race people, bisexual people. Intersectionality tries especially to deal with that. Or how many change from one place to another? one time to another? who counts as "white" is very changeable in this way.


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