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Paper Proposal: Trauma and Listening to (Un)Learn

smalina's picture

I'd like to focus this paper around the tension between looking beyond diagnosis (for example, at the center, where we do not name people's diagnoses/particular intellectual disabilities), and the values of trauma-informed care/trauma-sensitive schooling (which emphasize the importance of meaning learners/patients where they are, a process entirely dependent upon understanding what histories, experiences, and health concerns they bring into the space. 

I'd like to use some of my field notes, both from this course and from Critical Disability Studies, to highlight my initial investment in refusing to know particular disabilities held by members of the center and how this opinion shifted as I began to think more about trauma's place in the community. I hope also to speak more to Natalie about her experience dealing with the effects of trauma in that setting.

I intend to again reference The Art of Being a Healing Presence, along with philosophies gained from my past 360 experience with the performance/workshop of Two Women Talking, in order to name the school of thought around "clearing the space" in places of listening and bringing in no expectations about the other person. I will then juxtapose this with our course texts on trauma-sensitive education and more outside sources on trauma-informed care. I would also like to do a close reading of the passage from Achilles in VIetnam in which the author approaches a vet to talk and explains that he "knows some vets" are angered by this kind of conversation. I want to interrogate this passage, questioning to what extent his words come off as generalizing and not listening, and to what extent they seem to show that the author uses more general, prior experience and knowledge in order to meet the vet where he is, and to be more attuned to his situation.

I would like to also bring in the idea of trigger warnings, which seem related in that they do not demand that one have a prior knowledge of someone's particular trauma, but also do not attempt to altogether "clear the space" of past experiences, leaving it up to students to empower themselves with indirect assistance. 


alesnick's picture

What does it mean to meet someone where they are?  How is this contingent on both knowing and not knowing, learning and unlearning?  Things past and things aborning? What are "information" and prior knowledge where each individual is concerned?  This is such a rich set of questions and problems for empowerment and holism.  And education!  If schooling can be said to privilege academic knowledge as a matter of definition (and thus exclusion), what about learning?  Can we "learn someone" in a way that is radically present to their unique life without importing things from outside of that life?  Or -- does our life necessarily straddle the "without" -- aka culture! -- such as to keep the tension you will investigat integral?