Deepest thanks to everyone who joined our most recent discussion on epistemic injustice—and thanks especially to Alyssa Arbuckle for the incredibly rich readings and thought-provoking questions. We talked about individuals and infrastructure, reciprocity and community. We considered the potential power of student-centered teaching, of radical coalitions for change, of time and relationship and storytelling. Our notes, as always, are here.
This discussion took place within a context of yet another COVID surge. I'm sure I'm not alone in noticing a great deal of mental health struggle right now, among people from all walks of life. It's easy to understand why; as we wrap up a(nother) extremely difficult year and look ahead toward a year of continued uncertainty, it's hard not to feel powerless. And yet, we all have spheres of influence. Perhaps that is one of our individual and collective challenges in the year ahead: to find the areas in which we have power, and to focus our limited energy there.
One topic we kept circling back to was that of refusal and its potential power. Whether in the context of a collective action like a labor strike, the patterns seen in the great resignation, or individual decisions (honestly, like my own decision to work differently—I hope), saying no can be an act of strength and optimism. But is it always? What are the valences of refusal—courageous or timid, active or passive, toward change or simply a retreat? What are the ways that saying no can be transformative, can move towards a different kind of "yes", can be an act of support and solidarity?
The fact that we kept turning this topic over in our minds makes it seem worth exploring in greater depth. For our next session, I'd like to look at Clelia O. Rodríguez's Decolonizing Academia, as well as Sara Ahmed's work (maybe part of Complaint!, which I haven't read yet, or On Being Included, which I would love to talk about in this context).
If there are other texts you'd like us to consider together, please let me know! Our group Zotero library has a wealth of ideas, too. I'll write again soonish with some specific sections to read and a link to sign up. For now, pencil in January 20 from 5-6pm ET.
One other thing: There was interest in putting together a proposal for the 2022 American Studies conference; the submission deadline is Feb 1. From the CFP:
“The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire.” Something is broken. Whether or not it can be repaired may not be the right question. The 2022 Annual Meeting invites strategies that draw our attention to and command a multisensory, multiregister engagement with the world as it is and as we want it to be. Our next steps are tentative for reasons revealed by the many fires. Touch the beat, move without instruction, abandon your isolation. We’ve held onto it too long. We gather, now, in this cacophonous conjuncture to pull it apart, piece by piece, in order to continue the creation of something else altogether. What we hope for is time—time to think deeply, struggle, laugh, plot, challenge and be challenged—and presence, together in New Orleans.
If you are interested in being part of this, would you please let me know?
And now, I hope that your inboxes are quiet, your projects on pause, and that nourishment and restoration lie ahead. Sending warmest holiday wishes, and all my best hopes for 2022.