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Reflecting after first week of class

Riley's picture

I’ve been doing much reflection lately on how much I appreciate taking three courses that are so interconnected, and with the same classmates--it’s a liberal arts education at its absolute best. I really enjoy how much the course materials speak to each other, and the connections that can be made between them. For example, in Eve Tuck’s “Suspending Damage,” I saw links with what we talked about in Pim’s class when we read Ivan Illich’s speech “To Hell with Good Intentions.” According to Tuck, damage-centered research, as she calls it, is incredibly dangerous because we then think of ourselves (or, because of data, see others) as broken. This is research that “invites oppressed peoples to speak but to ‘only speak from that space in the margin that is a sign of deprivation, a wound, an unfulfilled longing. Only speak your pain’”. Here, links can be made with Ivan Illich’s speech we read in Pim’s class. The speech, given in 1968, is addressed to a group of volunteers in Mexico. Illich condemns the volunteers, explicitly addressing their paternalistic attitude towards those they help, and how they can’t even speak the language of the people they help. I find the two pieces compliment each other in many ways, despite the different tones and audiences. I look forward to making these connections more often.

Here's a connection to something outside of class: Here is a classic episode of This American Life that features a group of inmates learning parts of Shakespeare's Hamlet, and how they bring their own insights to the roles based on their past experiences with murder and crime. I thought of this when I read Eve Tuck's piece--I think "damaged-centered research" on inmates would hardly consider their Shakespearean acting abilities. I love this episode because of the characterization of the inmates--honest, human, fascinating and a little heartbreaking. It is the antithesis of damage-centered research.


alesnick's picture

"honest, human, fascinating, and a little heartbreaking"

This line in your post reminds me of my colleague's once saying, "Every individual is at the cutting edge of the universe."  A "desire orientation," to use Tuck's formulation, gives us a way of seeing ourselves and others as whole AND unfinished . . . and fascinating on account of both.

What, for you, are the current challenges/implications of the Illich-Tuck connection?  How is it informing/conditioning your practice (however you define that)?

More broadly, does it occasion a revision of earlier experiences or frameworks you've encountered?

Looking forward!