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Post for Group #4: Change?

igavigan's picture

Hi Friends,

In the spirit of our conversation on Eve Tuck's "Letter to Communities", I wanted to think about her ideas of "change," "theories of change," and whether or what Tuck might give her readers to help them/us feel empowered in diverging from entrenched models of "change." Tuck critiques traditional policy-oriented research methods for what she identifies as their failure to focus on, value, or hold up the desires and unique personhoods of its subjects. Rather, she argues, they focus on the deficiencies of their subjects vis-à-vis "normal" examples (that condition, perhaps, to which victims should be brought). She is certainly critical of research geared toward litigation and electoral success--not in their entirety but in the ways they fail to recognize their subjects as "complex" emotional beings. One of her examples of such research producing widespread societal change is Brown v. Board of Education.* I don't think many of us, Tuck included, would feel that the case shouldn't have happened and shouldn't have resulted in the outlawing (at least, theoretical outlawing) of discrimination. And yet, there's still some discomfort about how "change" should be brought about and what change means.

I'm taken with Tuck's argument that research and pushes for "change" should happen through solidarities, through holding people other in the light, valuing and not devaluing people, allowing marginalized people/communities to be partners and not subjects, etc. I think one impediment to all this, and this seemed to be an issue in our conversation yesterday, was some hesitation to break away from a model of change (which, in Tuck's and I think in our own minds, tends to be un- or under-defined) that produces victims in order to produce, eventually, "winners"--or, more broadly, "change." Perhaps we need to think a little more about "change" itself as a category and as a goal around which we may (or may not) want to, in some post-moratorium future, return.

I'm trying to imagine ways of embracing a different stance toward change, a different way of desiring an alternative future not bound to the logics of formal political life and the prestige of "making a difference." I feel like I need a bit more of a push from Tuck (or from someone who thinks I'm missing something!). Relatedly, if they are indeed operative/valuable/what we're stuck with, might there be ways to challenge about how litigation and legislation approach and address "problems" and ways of presenting facts/research/data that isn't about victims?

All the best,


*I don't mean structural change//the eradication of discrimination and inequality. Rather, by change at least in the traditional sense I'm thinking here about the reorganizations of many public schools, school districts, and communities along newly-defined "colorless" lines and the related shifts in demographics resulting from this reorganization due to Brown v. Board