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Towards Day 17 (T, 11/4): Co-counseling....and Going "Global"

Anne Dalke's picture

I. welcoming Victor Donnay and Orsola Capovilla-Searle,
who (@ Natalie's suggestion) have come to introduce us to co-counseling.

II. coursekeeping:
anybody interested in the English Major? if so,
our major reps are holding a follow-up meeting to the English tea
-- an information session for First years and Sophomores who want to know more about the English major, classes, professors, etc.
--tomorrow, Wednesday 11/5 4:30-5:30 in the Quita Woodward Room.

Let's check in on
where you are with the "storytelling and listening events" you are hosting @ BMC.
@ this point, the syllabus says that I am expecting your second 5-pp. web event this Sunday, 11/9,
reporting in on who/what/when/where/how/why this event happened, what you learned from hosting it,
and what seem to you possible next steps in the process you've initiated.
Is this possible and if it's not, what is?

for Thursday,
we will continue our discussion of feminism beyond U.S. borders
by discussing Chandra Mohanty's article, Under Western Eyes Revisited.

III. for today,
I asked you to choose to read EITHER
Mohanty's essay OR the one on Nego-feminism--to let me know which one of
those you wanted to focus on today; and also to look @ a report that
Alison Cook-Sather and some students wrote about International Students
on this campus. I chose that essay as a supplement to the two longer and
more theoretical arguments, because I wanted to make the point that the
"global" is "local," that the US (and US campuses) are composites of folks
from all around the world.

6 of you (Sunshine, ndifrank, khinchey, abradycole, Name & rebeccamec) actually focused on this "glocal" angle:
Sunshine: I decided to read "Lessons from International Students on Campus Living and Classroom Learning"
because it is so relevant to our current life at Bryn Mawr. Especially since many of us in class hold roles on campus
that include supporting international students. During DLT training we had a specific section of our week dedicated
to how to be supportive (and non-offensive). So the questions I have are:
1. How many, if any, of the reccomendations have been inacted? I came to Bryn Mawr in 2013, when the article was written,
so I don't know if campus culture was drastically different than now. If they were inacted, is there any way to do a follow up
and see how students are doing?
2. Was the perception of international students by domestic students taken into consideration, or thought independent of
this study all together? So much of the classroom experience at Bryn Mawr is how you interact with other students.
As is the rest of campus culture.
3. Were there any things that the college was doing right? Any aspect of Bryn Mawr where the idea of the Bubble
came true and things were easier or good for international students in a way that it normally wouldn't be elsewhere?

ndifrank, Questions about reading about international students: I really loved how the reading emphasized how
the community should learn from international students as much as international students learn from the community.
I also agree with the suggestions left at the end of the article that I wonder if they have been put in place. The main question
that I have is that by making the campus more diverse (hiring international faculty and other suggestions mentioned)
how will rules or structure be put in place? Colleges in the US run in a very US centric way such as how teachers are addressed
and how classroom discussion is conducted. Would classrooms be conducted based on a consensus of the campus or left fluid?
Also so many courses focus on US problems and go into great detail, would lessening classes focused on the US and
having more classes based on various nation's problems or lifestyle better the community when many of our student
population graduate and work/live in the US?

khinchey, "Diversity University": I found the study by Bryn Mawr students to also be the most interesting in conjunction
with our indepth study of Bryn Mawr's history. Like Sunshine and NDifrank, I found myself wondering what the actual results....

abradycole, Chameleon: Like Sunshine, I chose “Lessons from International Students on Campus Living and Classroom Learning”
Because I think the experience of current Bryn Mawr students is well within our reach. We spoke briefly a few weeks ago about the
advantages of documenting and archiving injustices on our campus as they happen. I think that this piece should be used as an
example of how to do this kind of important documentation work. There’s a completely fabricated barrier between theoretical
conversations we have in our classrooms at Bryn Mawr, and practical change we can make from those conversations. This kind of
documentation is the first step in making change.....Are there other pieces that have been written about injustice at Bryn Mawr
with a goal of change in mind? might be interesting about the ways they succeed in achieving
their goals and the ways they could be improved to help current and future Bryn Mawr students.

Name, Lessons from International Students: Reading the Cook-Sather piece, I immediately thought about the structure of my
listening conversation project. Initially, we had planned to present a series of stories to an audience of officials from Bryn Mawr
in order to change some of the existing structures to better support students. While I still think that event is important, the way
the group structured their request for stories, I think, works better for the institutional memory cataloguing...
So, I proposed... that we do a similar structure....First, we would interview one or two people and ask them
to tell us their stories and we ask questions in the way that Benaifer and Monsoon demonstrated. Then, we would meet up with the
rest of our group members to perform a speaking and listening telling the stories, while keeping them anonymous. This would allow
us to find themes, and draw conclusions about action from there.

rebeccamec, Catching Up with our Own Diversity: This article made me consider especially how not only international students,
but students of different SES backgrounds have different access and different conceptions of culture. The world of academia seems to,
whether overtly or not, promote a singular kind of culture. How do we teach students to recognize and be interested in the different
kinds of culture that exist within our divided, diverse community?  Are there academic ways to bridge the gaps presented by socio-economic
cultural differences in providing opportunities for students to interact with others with different backgrounds? Can we provide more opportunities
in the academic space to question the socioeconomic implications of the canon  and how those expectations of knowledge might divide our community?

only 2 of you responded to "nego-feminism," and/but/so I'd like us to focus on that material:
smalina: But when do certain acts become 'culture'?" (Nnaemeka 372)
This question, in particular, struck me as one that can only be answered with an understanding of intersectionality. It called to mind the phenomenon of the white/upper-class fear of "sketchy" neighborhoods--predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods that are thought to be more dangerous (though of course not due to the racial minorities present). In many people's minds, this is reduced to a simple phenomenon of culture: of course that's just how Black and Latino people live their lives, and it is normal and perhaps even desirable for them. What is left out of this explanation is the multitude of factors that make a neighborhood actually dangerous--Are the crime rates really higher? If so, why? Should women feel less safe in such neighborhoods than they would in the "good" part of town? Are there statistics to support this, or is this fear simply founded on racist assumptions? It seems ridiculous to assume that this is a cultural phenomenon, because doing so assumes that individuals in the community really want it to be that way--that there is some sort of order behind this. I would like to talk about this in class, especially in relation to the new, controversial app that allows privileged iPhone users to find and avoid "sketchy" neighborhoods.
"I finally understood that a photograph of Sibdou meant a photograph of her family" (Beach 1-2) This statement, and the whole passage quoted by Nnaemeka, is clearly part of a very large discussion around cross-cultural notions of the self and self-representation, that I would like to discuss in class. How do different culture's ideas of and preferences toward independence or interdependence shape notions of the self--or at least, how do they affect how we choose to represent the self? Though Sibdou might view "herself" as her own individual body and mind, she chose to pose for her portrait with her children surrounding her. How do different cultural expectations around interdependence shape Sibdou's desire to represent herself as not just a woman, but as a mother, and as part of a family? Does she intend to represent her children as truly a part of herself, or as an indispensible part of who she is?
"Culture should not be dismissed as a negative or neutral factor in development; rather, attempts should be made to find out in what ways culture is a positive force that can serve development well" (Nnaemeka 375) This idea puts an interesting twist on my initial assumptions of nego-feminism. My understanding prior to this reading was that nego-feminism was employed within a negative, constricting, patriarchal structure--that nego-feminism was the one shining light for women who otherwise would have no way of advocating for themselves. Nnaemeka's above statement confirms that negotiation feminism can come from parts of a society that are actually objectively positive--that there is more hope than the women's work itself.

abradycole. I’d like to talk a little bit about this quote from the Nnaemeka piece: “The chameleon is cautious. When the chameleon comes into a new environment, it takes the color of the environment without taking over. The chameleon adapts without imposing itself. Whatever we choose to call our feminism is our prerogative. However, in this journey that is feminist engagement, we need to walk like the chameleon—goal‐oriented, cautious, accommodating, adaptable, and open to diverse views.” Should the “chameleon” have to take on the color of its new environment? If, to acclimate to a new culture, one must lose part of one’s cultural identity, are we diminishing part of their identity? What can we do as an institution to support all parts of our students’ identities? Is that impossible because we cannot queer institutions like Bryn Mawr?

IV. Anne's reading-and-talking notes:

Nnaemeka: Nussbaum dismissed for irrelevant theorizing-->
Africans interrogate the ways in which theory raises concerns about "intervention," appropriateness, and applicability (358)
double apartheid of social and epistemological exclusions/disjunctures among diverse constituencies in a globalizing worlds (359)
increasing divorce between parochial debates in academy and vernacular discourses outside it -->
need to "globalize research from below," in "the third space of engagement, " or imagination (thought, dialogue, planning, action) (360).
nego-feminism (the feminism of negotiation; no ego feminism): a practice as diverse as the continent itself,
bound together by foundation of shared values, attitudes, and institutions;
call to interrogate & reposition positionality and intersectionality,
from "being there" to "doing what there,"
going beyond a historicization of the intersection to focus on the history of now/moment of action (361).
when do certain acts become "culture'? (impossibility of taking an "individual" photograph)
not viewing man as an economic tool for development
(leaving behind ideals of humanitiy, responsibility, compromise and partnership)
Lugones and Spelman: "whom does our theory making serve?"
fraught questions of provenance, subjectivity, positionality (362)
feminist scholarship seeks to put a human face on a body of knowledge,
scrutinizes human agnecy implication in knowledge/information (363)
you cannot mobilize a movement only/always against; must have a positive alternative (364)
Judith Butler: free feminist thoery from necesssity of a single ground;
Barbara Christian against the "race for theory"--> theorizing in narrative forms,
anonymity of communal voice, articulating knowledge claims in African proverbs (365)
4-part exam questions: who said, to whom, when, and where?
(identify voice that authorizes, passivity that legitimates,
temporality that marks, location of 1-way traffic of "transaction")
endemic pattern of quarantining "third-world' voices, excluded from the "theory section" (366),
Africans not included as collaborators, coauthors
NGOs in Africa raises serious uestions about information gathering, knowledge construction:
research focus donor driven, predicated on unequal relationships (367)
Lugones and Spelman raise question of accountability "to those about whom we theorize" (368)
deconstructive/subversive nature of African literature--> conceptualized, theorized as postmodernist;
indigeous contexts and formulations (such as the indeterminate "masquerade") are better, more understandable;
African worldviews capable of providing theoretical rank for African literature (369)
cf. development as "imperial process" vs. empowerment, inner fulfillment
globalization focuses more on the material (370)
"la mondialisation" captures materiality and humanity of globalization (371)
persistent, wrongheaded Western insurgencies against "weird regimes" of "unacceptable" cultures (371)
blame culture instead of socioeconomic predicament --> but when do certain acts become culture? (372)
objection to unidirectional intervention, aimed @ transforming victims in image of hte interventionists:
"impossibility" of taking an "individual" photograph in Burkina Faso (373)
"border crossing": learning from (not "about") the other
"the West" is constantly reconstitued by exclusions, conventions, discursive practices;
anthropology maintains difference as "self-evident" (374)
people in need are complex; find out how culture is a positive force that can serve development
man should not be an economic tool for development, which has left behind the African ideals of
humanity, responsibility, compromise, and the true partnership of democratic values (375)
to meaningfully explain African feminism, must refer to the African environment
African feminism proactive (not reactive); an engagement rooted in the indigenous (376):
what people consider important ot heir lives, an authentic expression of themselves
(cf. reified notion of cutlure evoked by "tradition"), focused on now and then, here and there
stability of a place, defined by the set of movements within it, expansive interplay of resistances & realizations
"First, nego‐feminism stands for 'no ego' feminism; second, nego-feminism stands for 'no ego' feminism" (377).
"In the foundation of shared values in many African cultures are the principles of negotiation,
give and take, compromise, and balance. Here, negotiation has the double meaning of “give and take/
exchange” and “cope with successfully/go around.” African feminism (or feminism as I have seen it
practiced in Africa) challenges through negotiations and compromise. It knows when, where, and
how to detonate patriarchal land mines; it also knows when, where, and how to go around patriarchal land mines."
theology of nearness: performance and altruistic act of feminism
A homogenous classroom needs the "foreignness" that challenges and promotes self-examination;
it needs the different, the out of the ordinary, that defamiliarizes (378)
establishment of Women's Studies Deparment in Uganda:
linkig acadmiec work to policy, advocacy, and other development enterprises;
sensitive to social utility of academic work,
view human life from total, rather than dichotomous, exclusive (379)
the male not the other but part of the human same: complement
African women's willingness and readiness to negotiate with and around men is quite pervasive,
are more inclined to reach out and work with men
language of feminist engagement in Africa runs counter to Western feminist scholarship:
African feminism challenges through negotiation, accommodation, and compromise
African women modulate their feminist struggle in deference to cultural, local imperatives (380)
knowing how to negotiate cultural spaces: "I hold back"
seeing feminist theory through the "other" defamiliarizes it (381)
great uncles' advice to "walk like the chameleon," cautiously taking the color of its environment....

IV. in closing: reflections on how we have been talking w/,
granting access, listening to each other?

additional topics you want to discuss on Thursday?