Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Notes from Pedagogies of Crossing/Jacqui Alexander

Every native of everywhere is a potential tourist. And every tourist is a native of somewhere. Every native would like a way out, every  native would like a rest. Every native would like a tour. But some natives, most natives in the world, cannot go anywhere. They are too poor to escape the realities of their lives. And they are too poor to live properly in the place where they live, which is the very place the tourist wants to go. So when the native sees you, the tourist, they envy you. They envy your own ability to leave your banality and boredom. They envy your ability to turn their own banality and boredom into a source of pleasure for yourself. (Jamaica Kincaid).

Collectivized "envy" is not the same as individual "envy." When collectivized, envy can ask important questions about how banality comes to be made into a source of pleasure, about who manufactures it, and about what can be done to transform it. ...Without these understandings, we will be unable to map the lines between our own location - between where we are, what we see, and what we do. We would be left to render only incomplete, skewed accounts of history...We need to develop a similar urgency around relational curricular projects that put us in conversation, not domination, with a range of relational knowledges. There is something quite profound about not knowing, claiming not to know, or not gaining access to knowledge that enables us to know that we are not the sole (re)producers of our lives. But we would have to apprehend the loss that comes from not knowing and feel its absence in an immediate and palpable way in order to remake ourselves enough, so that our analysis might change. We have to learn to intuit the consequences of not knowing, to experience their effects in order to reverse some of the deeply embedded deposits on which imperial psyche rests - a psyche that still holds on to the idea of manifest destiny and the fiction of protection and safety from an enemy, who is either calculating on the borders outside or hovering on the margins within. We would love to visit the devastation of living segregated lives.
A new conceptual map with an implied pedagogy that requires:

  • painstaking labor of reenvisioning curriculum, which at the very least does not reside within national and disciplinary borders
    • which takes account of the broad tempos and movements of history, while paying close attention to historical specificity
    • which demystifies the fictitious boundaries between the academy and the community
      • a division that leaves community work to particular disciplines, and worse, to particular bodies
    • which brings self-conscious positionality to the knowledge we produce, the contradictory positions we occupy and the internal systems of rewards and privileges from those very positions
    • which pays close attention to the questions we bring inside the classroom as we instruct students in the delicate task of learning how to pose questions.
  • and yet we confront a major difficulty in reconciling desire with practice, of teaching a vision we have not fully lived, of moving inside and across the outlines of a map, with no guarantees.
  • Such work places a great demand on the imagination, on practice, on reconfiguring the relationship between practice and theory and on building solidarity with different communities, while remaining aware of the suspicion that academic knowledge bears.

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic, Leny. Thanks for posting it!