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Notes Towards Day 8 (Thurs, Sept. 27 ): "What do we need to flourish here?"

Anne Dalke's picture

I. Silence by Erin; Sarah is up for Tuesday

* I have scanned our silent dialogue from Tuesday, and put it up on Serendip ; you can access it from the protected readings file.

postings due (by chandrea, couldntthinkof, Dan, Erin, HsBurke, Hummingbird, ishin, jhunter)
by Sunday @ 5 (since Jody's paper is Monday @ 9?); which the rest of you should read (and if you feel moved, respond to) by Monday @ 5--> your reflections on our discussions of this week past, or on readings to come (which are)

* three essays
: two about Rigoberta's text, from a 1999 book by Doris Sommer called Proceed with Caution, When Engaged by Minority Writing in the Americas (recommended by Jen Harford-Vargas; why Rigoberta is on our syllabus); and another short piece written/read by Leslie Marmon Silko in 1991: "Language and Literature from a Pueblo Indian Perspective" --continuing to explore different ways in which different cultures perform/understand silence...

* writing conferences--> need to see most of you by the end of next week; send me e-mails to set this up (this and next Friday morning would both be GREAT!!...)

* long term planning: final performance/teach-in on Monday, December 17;
(many details to follow but you must be there!); final written work due by 12:30 on Dec. 21

III. "What does each of us need to flourish here?"
Write for 5 minutes, then we'll read aloud
what we have written/thought/want to request of one another.

Again: "it sounds like what WE need to flourish is...."
Try to process/negotiate...our way towards a space where
we all might flourish (surely our shared goal...?)

IV. Silent Cultures
a being who could not renounce saying many things would be incapable of speaking….Each people leaves some things unsaid, to be able to say others…any given silence has its identity as a stretch of time being perforated by sound (Ortega y Gasset).

Rigoberta as a model both for speaking up and choosing silence...?
my own first reading
, on sabbatical in Guatamala, Fall 2006,
the times, they are a-changing..., highlighted her shift from traditional forms
of "accepting what is" to violent struggle against oppression;
but now I'm interested in how much she insists on silence

on this reading, I had a very strong sense of the ethnographer,
Elisabeth Burgos-Debray, asking questions, and Rigoberta
repeatedly saying, "I'm keeping that secret...."
which is why I read out that last lines of the text in class on Tuesday

Take a minute to find your quote again
--or write out an idea that stood out to you,
in any way, in this text. Discuss this passage with your partner.
Let's read these out again, and discuss as a large group....

V. Anne's quotes:
"Learn to protect yourself, by keeping our secret" (p. 7).
"It is our duty as parents to keep our secrets safe generation after generation,
to prevent the ladinos learning anything of our ancestors' ways" (67-68).
"We must not trust them, white men are all thieves. We must keep our secrets from them" (69).
"In Guatemala..the Indian can't speak up for what he wants" (p. 102).
"The most distressing thing for us was not being able to speak. That was when I told myself: 'I must learn to speak Spanish, so that we don't need intermediaries'" (110).
"...the priests...taught us to accept many things, to be passive, to be a dormant people...they told us that God is up there and that God had a kingdom for the poor....It prevents us from seeing the real truth" (p. 121).
"The community decided: 'No one must discover our community's secret now, compañeros. It's secret what we are doing here. The enemy must not know, nor must our other neighboours.' Eveyrone agreed. We began teaching our children to be discreet" (p. 125).
"Nevertheless, I'm still keeping my Indian identity a secret. I'm still keeping secret what I think no-one should know. Not even anthropologists or intellectuals, no matter how many books they have, can find out all our secrets" (p. 247).

How does any of this speak to our own experience (of silence)?

Let's use Peter Elbow's "believing and doubting" exercise to work w/ these ideas:
make two columns on a piece of paper--listing the ways in which you can support,
then challenge, these claims.

VI. keynotes from Menchu's biography:
b. 1959, received primary school education in Catholic boarding schools
family activists during Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996)
father died in burning of Spanish embassy (1980);
she escaped to Mexico (1981);
narrated life story to Venezulean anthropologist Elizabeth Burgos:
Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia"
(My Name is Rigoberta Menchu and this is how my Conscience was Born, 1983)
youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Prize (1992, aged 33)
center of media controversy when authenticity of her testimony/
validity of her Nobel Prize was challenged by anthropologist David Stoll (1999)
filed complaint w/ Spanish court to extradite former
military rulers on charges of genocide, torture (2006)
worked w/ pharmaceutical industry to provide low-cost generic medicines
formed indigenous political party, was candidate for President of Guatemala (2007, 2011)
works now as peace ambassador to youth