Just a reminder for our next reading group session, one week from today! Details below; sign up here for the link. Hope to see you there.
In our next session we'll focus on questions of ease, comfort, structure—and breaking institutional habits. We'll gather on Thursday, January 20, from 5-6pm EST; please sign up here for the link. We'll look at the following texts:
Part of what I appreciate about these writers, and these texts in particular, is the way they call attention to the constructed nature of the systems in which we live and work. I'd like to focus on matters of ease and comfort—and, more specifically, how and why ease/comfort can make change exceedingly difficult. Within this framework, I'd like to talk more about refusal, and how the act of refusal can interrupt an otherwise well-worn (but perhaps undesirable, unjust, or outdated) pattern.
I love the way Ahmed follows movement—the movement of a word through time and context; the movement of a document through an institution. That movement reveals more than a single snapshot could, and always reminds me of the angles of a prism. In What's the Use, consider not only the writing but also the images and captions—their repetition with variation, their content, what you see differently each time they are presented. Ahmed does something similar with the image of a brick wall in her earlier book, On Being Included; I'll likely bring in a few passages to discuss from that book as well.
In Decolonizing Academia, consider the ways Rodríguez uses—and breaks away from—familiar forms of academic discourse. In terms of structure, I'd be especially interested in discussing "Eleventh Layer: The #Shithole Syllabus." As she notes just after that section, "We must scrutinize the logic of power that is behind our syllabi and our research work. If we are truly committed to the work of decolonizing, we must listen to the silences, that which is not written" (p.33; emphasis mine). From an affective point of view, I'm curious about ways the questions of comfort and ease come into play in Rodríguez's work. Who is comfortable reading her words, who is uncomfortable, and why?
Bringing these two texts together will give us ways to think about barriers and boundaries. We often think of barriers as stopping points, obstructions—but as Ahmed's cover image suggests, a barrier to one may be necessary in order to ensure another's access. What is easy and comfortable for one is necessarily less comfortable for another. Perhaps rather than thinking in terms of barriers, we could think of diversions—like water flowing around a stone rather than stopping entirely. Where might these stones be beneficial in rerouting institutional habits, for the sake of justice and equity and hope?