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Re: [existlist] Ethnography

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  • Aija Veldre Beldavs
    ... the effect of post-colonialism is an issue in many post-Soviet countries today, including small indigenous groups in Russia. the terms of course are not
    Message 1 of 18 , Oct 1, 2005
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      On Sun, 25 Sep 2005, Exist List Moderator wrote:

      > Personally, I tire of the theories using catch phrases like
      > neo-colonialism, Anglo-liberalism, neo-liberalism, democratization
      > education, liberation pedagogy, and social-epistemic directive. Yes, I
      > get it... we all have to be confessional liberals, with a sufficient
      > amount of guilt for the fate of being born in a Western culture or more
      > specially, and much worse, the United States.

      the effect of post-colonialism is an issue in many post-Soviet countries
      today, including small indigenous groups in Russia. the terms of course
      are not neutral. they can't "explain" much of anything by themselves
      without exploring the vertical and horizontal particulars of each case.

      > My personal theory is that much of this new liberation pedagogical
      > chat, which actually dates to at least 1964 or 65, is merely Marx
      > repackaged with a new elite (the educators) trying to lead the
      > revolution.

      the countries under Soviet domination came up with a different kind of
      "revolution" than the classical French, Russian, or Chinese prototypes.
      instead of violent, bloody radical change of social structure leading to
      utopias, the singing and velvet types were nonviolent and demanded
      "normalcy" that is still being contested. the fifty years of "social
      revolution" were clearly seen as NOT normal, though there is some
      nostalgia for the security it gave. also the period of economic shock and
      adjustment to involuntary massive population shifts taking place still
      today is not seen as "normal."

      > In some way, this is the problem with current philosophers, too. They
      > are seldom part of the discourse in the United States. We have taken
      > the social sciences and philosophy away from the masses, for some
      > reason, in part because we love our 50-cent phrases and elitist
      > attitudes. "We can save the poor, uneducated, unorganized masses!" As
      > if we in the humanities have any leadership qualities, lately.

      yes, it is a dangerously unstable situation when there is no feedback
      among people and leaders, when the "ordinary people" don't feel their
      leadership accountable or acting in their behalf. leadership is needed,
      but even in a totalitarian or authoritarian system, the people can not be
      just ignored or pushed around indefinitely.

      > have to be so territorial is beyond me. It's funny how the wars in the
      > university mirror the same tendencies we criticize in world politics.
      > At the CSU where I am teaching, we are now fighting to have rhetoric
      > restored to its own "departmental" role.

      good for you!:)
      one of the greatest benefits in being in a university setting is to be
      face to face with people all over the world and talking to them.

      > This is where we can have a quest for "authenticity" and "existential
      > identity" within a culture. At what point is giving cameras to
      > indigenous people interference?

      there aren't any significant numbers of groups totally isolated any more,
      and the ones that were recently as in the Amazon have had their land
      encroached on by loggers and such in any case. historically contact with
      isolated peoples can be deadly simply because such populations doesn't
      have the same level of immunity to disease the newcomers bring with them.
      aboriginal America was largely depopulated and conquered by diseases more
      than outright slaughter.

      > overtly political text. I'd rather my students have to critically think
      > about a fictional work and recognize the politics instead of being hit
      > over the head with liberalism. It's my theory that what they "discover"
      > on their own will be much more valuable and empowering.

      my own best teachers have all been great facilitators who have tried to
      develop the interest the student already has into a a deeper and broader
      understanding by their engaging with the classical and state of the art
      relevant texts of the field but drawing their own conclusions.

      > The funny thing is, I don't care if students become liberal,
      > conservative, or something funky and new. My job is to simply get them
      > to think. I view ethnography in much the same light. We can use other
      > cultures as mirrors to our own, and we can expose them to ours.
      > However, I'm not sure anyone "wins" in these cultural exchanges -- we
      > simply change what is "authentic" for the moment.

      in anthropology and folklore classes the student composition generally is
      international here. the students learn from each other's different
      perspectives and at best there is not only some balance of opposites, but
      some original syncretism.

      aija
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