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4Oct2012Vision4: Desire-based research and Vision's addiction concept

ishin's picture

A couple of classes ago, we discussed the complications with making research based in desire.  While we thought that desire-based was more beneficial/was the extra layer that damage-based research needed, using the diction choice of "desire" disturbed us a little bit.  In other words, what Eve Tuck was trying to advocate (a more holistic approach to research, and not concentrating on only what wrong has been imposed onto a group) may not be best encompassed by the word desire, since it associates persons as always "wanting" something or addicted to something.

Visions, then, seems to be the end product of what worried us so much.  By solely using the rhetoric of "desire" and "addictions" to address what problems the women may have, it seems to limit and test them in ways that could turn out to be more damaging than fruitful.  Admittedly, I haven't read through the book yet, so I can't make a stance on how Haney sees this plays out, but so far, Visions and its practice of trying to channel desires to other "healthy" avenues seems to be awful in its own way.  To have the women always in a space of complete transparency, allowing them to speak whatever they might to a peer in the hotseat--it's pretty brutal.  I may be making connections that might not make sense in those post, but I'm worried.

To always think about people in terms of desire is not good.



jo's picture

Damage and Desire

I too was thinking about desire-based research and change as described by Eve Tuck when I read about Visions, especially since I think Haney uses similar terminology (or at least uses the word desire to describe Visions' methods). Though Tuck did present the view that desire-based research is more affective and respectful to the communities and peoples it affects, the accounts of Visions seem to present a different story. Clearly the "optimism" of the methods used at Visions created more damage, more negativity than positivity, so does this contradict Tuck's point as you describe? I think it might be more that Visions uses a mask of hope, desire, and optimism to cover up an already negative mindset. I'm not saying the staff or the people running it are doing this intentionally; it seems they really thought they were making a difference, that they thought their program was the best option, better than normal prison. From what I can tell they had the best intentions. But they were functioning under prejudices and misunderstandings.

I think it's common to see something as positive or even desire-based, hopeful, when in fact it is rooted in damage, negativity, and causes more harm than good. A good example of this is the article Hayley posted about the Bryn Mawr student, which, though its trying to express hope and desire, is actually centered around a lot of damage.

Chandrea's picture

I had to take a moment and

I had to take a moment and stop reading when I read the description about "The Focus Seat." I couldn't believe what I was reading. These poor women were told to sit in this seat and get yelled at by other women and the Visions staff actually thought this was acceptable as long as they used "I" statements?! It made me think about Bryn Mawr for some reason - about how we encourage "positive confrontation" and not being passive aggressive... when in reality, I've come across so many passive aggressive girls and people avoid confrontation as much as possible, me included. It's funny because sometimes I think "I" statements can be used as a shield to give us the right to say whatever we want to say. Who in their right mind actually thought this "Focus Seat" was a good idea? I'm trying to imagine having a "Focus Seat" session at Bryn Mawr. All hell would break loose.

And I find this "addiction" terminology bothersome. I don't like it. It just doesn't feel right. When Evelyn declares, "They are sick. They are addicts. What they need is to stop thinkin' they need everything," I couldn't stop rolling my eyes. Domestic abuse victims addicted to men? Combative women addicted to conflict? Give me a break. It sounds a little melodramatic to me.