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World-traveling in Context

couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

This week I am revisiting the Lugones reading about world-traveling and feeling at ease in the worlds we travel through. When I first read the reading, I disliked it very much. I did not understand exactly the terms the author used and I definitely could not understand them in relation to literacy. I realize now that the Lugones reading was not something I could read and just immediately get. Instead, I had to experience what she meant by world-traveling and this experience played out this weekend when I attended the Posse Plus Retreat (PPR). 

For those who do not know, the PPR is a weekend-long event open to Bryn Mawr students, faculty and staff invited by the Pose scholars on campus. It is an annual event and its goal is to get people connected and to be challenged by conversations about a central topic. The one I attended was on gender & sexuality.

This weekend, I travelled to a new world and it was not without unease. A little ignorantly, I thought that there wasn't much to learn about the topic because I had two gay best friends, I went to a very open high school, and I go to Bryn Mawr, a school that is very supportive and vocal about the LGBTQAAII community. Of course I was completely wrong. Even worse, I left the retreat feeling like I had never belonged or felt at ease in that "world" even when I thought I did at first. Feeling, in some ways, excluded, I left PPR with more questions than answers to my frustrations. I think they are very relevant to the Lugones reading so....

Is there a difference between feeling at ease and feeling like you belong to a different world? Is my feeling at ease or feeling like I belong to a different world mainly dependent on those who established that world and how they receive/perceive me?How do we travel through a space where multiple worlds intersect? Is that even possible?Does being at ease in a different world mean that the traveller is powerful? Powerful enough to change that world? Even if the character has limiting characteristics? For instance, Lugones "feeling at ease" in Anglo worlds as a woman of color.

I am in no hurry for answers. I feel like world traveling will always create more questions than answers, if any. I am just glad to know that my challenge with the reading was always meant to be a struggle because it represents very real situations that are hard to grapple in the moment. And my experience over the weekend was no exception.


couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

Alice:) I disagree with your

Alice:) I disagree with your statement about your role in another world and perhaps it is b/c I am very limited in my thinking; sometimes I think of our society as black and white (i.e. literally black vs. white, male vs. female, young people vs. adults, oppressor vs. oppressed, etc). So, for me, it is a little discouraging to know that I, a black female of a lesser discourse, can navigate/survive/ even thrive in a pre-dominately white, wealthy discourse (of which I had no choice but to be apart of if I am to survive this country) and will never be able to change the rules. And yet, on the other hand, this country was built on people of the dominant discourse changing the rules of other people's worlds without even having to "deeply understand" these worlds. So how is it that I don't have freedom to change rules once I am at ease or integrated into another discourse but those from the dominant discourse don't even have to navigate a different world in order to change it? I never would change the rules of a different world but it is nice to know that I have the option if needed. Perhaps having the option makes me feel like I am true traveller, one who can settle in a different world, not feel like a foreigner and contribute to the growth of its people.

As for your question at the end, perhaps people from dominant discourses can't tell when they are psychically in someone else's world, but I'd be shock if a person who has a historically oppressed identity (i.e. being a woman, being a person of color, being a young person, being gay, etc) could not tell when he/she were in a world different from his/her own. For me, there is not a day that goes by where I am not aware of my race and economic background especially in the town of Bryn Mawr. Trust me, it is a different world to me and I notice when I am "visiting" it.

Thank you for pushing my thinking and allowing me to disagree with you,


alesnick's picture

Dear Esty

Thank you for pushing my thinking :) I want to be sure I understand yours.  You are saying (right?) that without the possibility of changing the rules being part of traveling to a dominant space, you experience discouragement since as a person of color from a working class family you often have to world travel in dominant spaces.  I get this and see the problem.  I also see questions flowing from it pertaining to how we are different with respect to dominance, since I am a white woman from a middle class family and therefore can, and do (at least to a degree) pass in the town of Bryn Mawr (where I am not "at home" politically or in terms of class or ethnic/religious affiliation).  I am deeply committed to changing the rules of society that tolerate and often encourage vicious inequalities and inequities.  I am not sure I think that I can do this, though, by visiting others' subjective worlds.  I think I assume I need to do this by changing the rules of worlds we share -- the public worlds of law, media, and education.  

But I want to keep thinking with you about this.  For I too want to, and do, hold hope to be able to settle in a range of worlds and be about growth there, of myself and others.

To be continued . . . 


alesnick's picture

power and "world"-traveling

Thank you for these rich questions and connections, and for being in no hurry for answers.  I appreciate your having time/making time for the questions.

To your (great) question, whether being at ease in a world means one has power in and to change it: I am thinking it depends.  For me, when I can "world" travel, and be with someone else in their subjectivity, I feel as if my power is highly personal/relational, not structural.  In fact, I feel as if understanding deeply another's world, especially when that other holds more or different power from me, equips me to navigate/survive/even thrive in that world for as long as I am there, as an individual, but not to change the rules . . . What do you think?  Also, how can we be sure we are visiting (psychically) someone else's "world?"