May 2012 Archives

An Ode to the Internet and Other Things

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In class last week, Professor Zenzele asked us to consider who walked with us. The request came from a section of M. Jacqui Alexander's Pedagogies of Crossing entitled "Knowing Who Walks with You: The Making of Sacred Subjectivity" (2005:300).

I floundered in class to come up with a 'respectable' answer,in part because I don't consider myself to be super spiritual, at least not at this point in my life.

However, I did come up with a few more, uh, practical, answers about the work that seems to regularly inspire me, and to which I often turn for guidance. I thought of this in class, but I felt somewhat ashamed to say it:

The internet is one of my biggest sources of inspiration.

As much as I loathe the internet, and hate how being on a computer for extended periods of time makes me *feel*, I know that I have encountered an amazing amount of material, articles, discussions, and arguments that have consistently sparked my thoughts. From Tumblr to online academic journals, the ease with which I can access information online is pretty awesome.

On thing about the internet that I find especially valuable is the unique online community I have access to. My alma mater, Grinnell College, has an online platform called Plans, a text-only program that might be somewhere between Facebook and a blog. Everyone has their own account or profile with a nearly unlimited amount of space to list information about themselves and, more importantly, have conversations with other Plans users. This past week was an especially active one, in which there was a heated discussion about sexual assault and redistributive justice. People considered what accountability could have and should have looked like on campus, and what it could and should look like in our online community and everyday life. (Andrea Smith's Conquest was actually quite helpful here.) In the context of this conversation, I and others posted links to articles, zines, and blogs that also took up this topic in alternative ways.

But this is not to say that the internet is my *sole* source of inspiration. While I cannot think of a single author who consistently guides my work (and perhaps this is another result of growing up as part of the Internet generation), I am regularly in awe of the work put out by South End Press. I can honestly say that nearly every book of theirs that I have read has pretty dramatically shifted how I think about the world (including, of course, Andrea Smith's Conquest). I have listed some of my personal favorites below:

Policing Ntnl Body.gif

This was the first South End book I encountered as an undergraduate. Especially coming from Sociology, the idea that criminal-legal issues could be articulated from a radical standpoint was pretty mind blowing.


If you are interested in nonprofits and social change, this is the book for you! Like so many South End Press books, I had personally suspected a lot of what this book is about, but never before had the language to articulate it.


Peter Gelderloos's How Nonviolence Protects the State smashed (pun intended!) many of my deeply held beliefs about what change can and should look like.

Age, Activism, and Memory

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There have been quite a few stories about the 20th anniversary of the LA riots this past week, but this story on Cololines, "Children of the LA Riots", caught my eye:

I found the idea of centering kids' perspectives in a historical event incredibly intriguing. Age is something that we haven't talked a lot about in class. How does age affect our perception of our place in the world, and how are we read as having a specific place in the world because of our age? Children-- and in other ways, the elderly-- are often sidelined as historical actors. These videos forces us to take seriously young people in prominent historical moments. Though these folks were quite young at the time, they still have significant memories of the riots. And notably, none of these memories are individual ones. They are mostly memories of their relations to other people who were there-- moms, fathers, friends, cousins, siblings, neighbors. Therefore, even as children, they shaped the roles, experiences, and memories of many others who were there.

The second thing these videos bring up is the complexity of remembering as adults things that happened to us as children. What kind of frameworks are these folks using to recall their experiences and feelings, and how might that differ if we talked to them 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago? And does that even matter? If we consider memory and history as socially constructed, then perhaps is doesn't matter as long as we make those assumptions clear and use those assumptions to shape our analysis of those memories and histories. As Anzaldua, Blackwell, and other have shown, being both critical of and creative with memory and the creation of history is crucial for envisioning a new world.

And though it might be uncommon to take seriously adult's recollections of historical events that occurred when they were children, it seems even less common to take seriously children's visions for the future.

Pedagogies of Crossing Handout

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Pedagogies of crossing -handout.pdf

Hi everyone,

Attached is the handout for tomorrow's class discussion on Jacqui Alexander's Pedagogies of Crossing. I did not include much of a summary as I feel that the chapters cover a wide range of topics and I do not trust myself to write a summary that will do justice to text itself.

I have tried to keep the questions broad and we can include other themes from the text that you would like to discuss.

See you all tomorrow!

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