Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Notes Towards Day 19: Thinking Economically

Anne Dalke's picture

I. 2:25-2:35: coursekeeping
* sign-in sheet

* putting pirate pad to bed

* I've responded to your second web-events on-line; in each case,
I've tried to expand the context both in time and in space: I went back and

* reviewed your first one, in order to place this one in "historical" context
(to think a little about the connections, how much you "moved"); and I also

* suggested two classmates whose project is related to your own:
Celeste, Erin McD and Samuel.terry
issues of class: EP, vhiggins, EmmaBE
diversifying bmc: Fdaniel, nia.pike, kwilkinson
language use: iskierka, juliah, Shaina
queer kids: Maya, ccassidy, pialamode
disability: taylor11, Amoylan, Ann Lemieux
accommodations: sschurtz, Cat, Maggie
intolerance (most random!): ari, piper, Polly

* please read the essays written by your writing partners, by classtime on Thursday,
come to class ready to compare notes about what you learned from one another/
where your arguments push against one another, etc;
we'll spend the first 15-20 minutes on Thursday on that task;
and you should also plan to post a comment on both those papers
(as you did last time), either before-or-after you talk

* also! please! go back and tag both of your own web events as "web events"--
this helps us both w/ finding them, and w/ the ongoing portfolio creation (ex:
/exchange/portfolio/Amoylan )

* I've also selected from the work of two feminist theorists for us to discuss on Thursday--
about 35 pp. from bell hooks' 2000 book, Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics; & 20 pp. from
Doris Sommer's 1999 book, Proceed with Caution, When Engaged by Minority Writing in the Americas.
Their titles indicate their very different orientations: hooks is universalist
("for everybody"), and Sommers is particularist ("proceed with caution....")-->
hooks refuses to problematize the differences among us; Sommers insists on doing so.
hooks' lens is very broad; Sommers is focused on the work of Rigoberta Menchu,
a Quiche Indian from Guatamala, whose work you are likely not to have read

II. 2:35-2:45: your Sunday evening postings continued
to mull over questions of time and silence

about varieties of time-->
shaina: reading "Eva's Man", I couldn't automatically differentiate myself from her by saying that I would never commit the crime that she did.

Taylor11: I found myself organizing Eva's life into order even though Eva wasn't doing that herself…that is how I have been taught to understand books and have been programed that the way for a long time.  I have been stuck in normative time for so long will I ever be able to fully escape it?  

iskierka: Eva's time was spent…she is stuck…Is this a consequence of queering time and eliminating reproductive time? Is Eva's being 'stuck' a product of her non-normative timeline?

EP: I began to wonder if, by defining "queer" or "crip time," we give those concepts their own "normative" boundaries….their own set of rules and defined nature…we choose to define time as if we have any control over the matter [once we define it, we normalize ceases to be "queer"...]

about silence and speaking-->
I don’t think that Jones had any obligation to filter the story so that is would be an easier or more accessible read. 

MargaretRachelRose: Silence is solitary, personal…Inside that silence, there is power….Inside that power is manipulation. The Silenced could be misinterpreted…I think Eva’s silence is stifling….She has the power, but does not externalize it, never loud enough for her to be heard.  

Fdaniel: It seems as though Eva’s silence dug her in a deeper and deeper hole…her silence may not have been the most empowering, privileged decision but rather the most damaging one. 

Maya: many people talked about how the only reason Eva stayed silent was that it was the only thing left she had power over in her life...Many people do not talk as much because they are thinking and deliberating…. we move through life too fast…But many times we chose to stay silent because we get tired of standing up again and again and having no one on our side…

Polly:  Eva cannot expect to get anything out of the legal system if she does not speak.

Cat: We talk about talking, but never listening…The problems we have with class discussion are usually not about the lack of listening. Likewise, much of the dialogue surrounding the silence in Eva's Man has been about Eva's refusal to speak…not about her audience's refusal to listen… unpacking who is making her vulnerable and why is important…

Celeste: Perhaps Eva exists too heavily inside her own mind to even consider self defense through verbalization? Can we have conversations with ourselves that are just as relevant and useful inside of ourselves, or do we only make "progress" while participating in society?  I'm beginning to think that perhaps we shouldn't expect responses out of people….I have a private life inside of myself that is similar, but not the SAME as the life I live with others, outside of myself. I don't think that it's a bad thing to have that distinction.

count by 8’s, forming groups of 3, to discuss either
* EP's notion that we have been normalizing  crip time, by defining it;
* or Celeste's idea that we might well maintain an inside life,
which is not measured by "progress" and "participation"
(of course in doing this you will also be discussing all the postings that lead up to these...)

II. 2:45--getting ourselves in the zone
about 3 p.m. we'll be welcoming
feminist economist Heidi Hartmann
in preparation, I'd asked you to read around in Marilyn Waring's work, as well as some of Hartmann's;
let's take a few minutes to prepare ourselves for this shift in focus-->

where are we in relation to economics?
(who has taken a course/had experience in this dimension? why/why not?)

What interests me about the work of Marilyn Waring
(whom Cat and I read in Ecological Imaginings last fall)
is the way she moved from the sort of work Heidi Hartmann does
to a critique of economic measures

Waring started out trying to assign value to traditional women's work-->
by calculating the labor of women, she was proclaiming their visibility and worth,
reconceptualizing the household not as a consuming unit, but as a productive one;
measuring economic welfare by what actually contributes to the welfare of us all--
although subsistence production had been seen, macroeconomically, as of little or no importance,
recording the time-use of women (vs. men) revealed the magnitude of women's invisible work

unpaid work, including reproducing human life, or feeding and nurturing one's own families,
was not counted in the conventional measures, and Waring's project was to make such reproduction visible,
to empower women by giving their work a monetary value

In arguing that the conventional labour market surveys were too narrowly conceived, 
Waring also claimed that they asked the wrong questions: we should ask what economy is for,
how much is enough, what provides joy, happiness, peace, satisfaction

but she eventually decided that this work of pressing
non-economic values into framework of economic calculus
was always dependent on the values of a participant observer,
and was based on the absurb premise that everything has a price
"uni-dimensional economical fabrication cannot contain our lives,"
and economics doesn't allow for the introduction of values
that don't find their way into an economic formula

Waring asked what the "cost" is of visibility in patently pathological value system:
do we want all life commodified in economic model?

HH's work, however, has been explicitly engaged, for decades, in that model,
and I think we have a lot to learn from the work she has been doing,
in particular about the relation (large gap?) between the sort of theoretical questions
we have been asking, and the sort of practice she engages in...

For that reason, the most interesting selection (for me) of the various articles we had to read was the old (1996!) "collective interview" HH conducted for the premier feminist studies journal, Signs, with Ellen Bravo, Charlotte Bunch, Nancy Hartsock, Roberta Spalter-Roth, and Linda Williams:

“My background in these issues probably starts with growing up poor to a single mother and going to an elite college, Swarthmore, where there were a lot of new Left activities...I didn't get involved in the women's movement until 1969 when I went to gradaute school in economics at Yale. New Haven Women's Liberation was....very much a socialist feminist group...a strong atmosphere of activism...helped me understand that what I was learning in school could actually be useful to women. A heady feeling....Then in 1987, I founded IWPR [Institute for Women's Policy Research].

Although I have written a couple of articles that are well known in socialist feminist theory, I moved into the public policy world soon after getting my Ph.D. I have worked primarily on women's employment and related issues...I am primarily a practitioner in the policy research context. I do not read much theory....'Who reads Signs anymore?'

Maybe professionalization affects what we label as feminist theory. In the old days, we might have called all of the feminist analysis done by activists feminist theory....

[Charlotte Bunch: I do not like the expression the women's movement. Instead, I often talk about women in movement....]

The frustration that we have had at IWPR is that...econmic issues do not seem to get hte same priority and visibility...the center of the women's movement is the abortion rights marches...held around court decisions.

[Charlotte Bunch: they are hte issues that the social structure is the most resistant ot changing...]

...what a struggle it is just to try to get some unity of identity and purpose among groups based in Washington, D.C. who self-identify as women's groups....We jsut disappear into the fabric of society.

[Charlotte Bunch: theory about difference can...form a new basis of solidarity [but] has conditioned the student to feel that she cannot have a has become immobilizing because it has not been done in conjunction with practice....

Roberta Spalter-Roth: it is a good thing to question whether i have the right to value this process of questioning...self-criticism, humility ,and sensitivity to others..]

We had a meeting of the CEOs of some of the Washington-based women's groups who were focusing...on economic issues....The groups that were the better heeled were the least interested in was almost as if the leaders of these larger organizations were saying, "The working women of America? Wait a minute, I am on the way to the White House, puhleeze." So would be better if there were more humility among all of these groups in terms of whom they think they speak for and what they should be doing.

[Charlotte Bunch: although separatism is a very good way to learn about your difference and shape your identity, it does not empower you over time. Ultimately, you can become so isolated that you are disempowered ....
Understanding that whenever you speak, you speak from who you are is basic. Nonetheless, each of us needs to try to incorporate as broad a range of understanding of others women's experiences as we possibily speak to issues that go beyond just [our] own experiences. This requires knowing the difference between solidarity speaking, coalition speaking, and claiming or co-opting others' lives.]

IWPR is saying, "We specialize in policy research. Since some of you are in academia and some of you are policy activists, we will be the bridge"....feminist theory should include work...on the different streams of public benefits: the male stream, which tends to be better heeled, and the women's stream, which tends to be less well heeled....we are public policy advocates look to social science rather than the humanities for our theory.... feminist theory is valuable for practitioners insofar as it speak to them [but also responds to problems that they have raised].

We are much more apt, both in practice and theory, to study problems faced by women in other countries, without focusing on why the United States is the leader in pushing these poliicies and what U.S. women can do to improve U.S. policy. For example, what problems are caused by the International Monetary Fund structural adjustmetn programs, and what is the role of the United States in implementing these policies?

We have tried to use international precedent to strengthen our policy arguments... on equal pay for work of equal value ...and comparable worth systems....what can we learn from people in other countries...

We re getting some recommendations out of our collective interviews...enlarge what counts as theory...There is a moral certainty acquired from having a theoretical basis for your action that does give you strength as a political movement...before we create an agenda we need to define principles of femnism....we could develop a manifesto....create structural space for activists to write....broaden the definition of what counts within universities...diversify the formats in which we produce and dissemminate our feminist theories....give money to the causes and organizations you believe in.