Peer review of paper number 134
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Dear Patricia, Your paper is excellent: your questioning is incisive and very subtly articulated, and so, a pleasure and excitement to read. What follows, then, is mostly comments on specific points and suggestions for further clarifications or development. "Mapping the personal and the social" 1st §, l. 4: as a lay person in your field, I had no clue at that point about the meaning of "ecosystemic epistemology". You provide the reader more details only later on (i.e. 2nd § bottom up), but these still leave readers like me to do the work of imagining the insufficiencies of this approach. For instance, I inferred that that the problem you saw in this approach was the positing of two separate ecologies, or niches, that did not enable one to question the very formation of these, thereby already framing the nature of the possible and thus analyzable interactions between the ecological systems. Or something like this, but I could not figure out more, which means not either your "More is needed" at the end of the latter paragraph. same §, last two questions from "How for example was I to 'make meaning'...": At that point, it reminded me of Anthony Collins' conference paper about economics as the repressed of psychology as a discipline – and here, the very issue of paying for therapy, a point that you address later on in "Implications for the practices of therapy", 3rd paragraph, although without clearly stating the historical and discipinary exclusion of economic issues from the therapeutic domain. 2nd §: l.6. bottom up: "... how much his hurt and difficulties were both directly related to, as well as expressed through his position as a young, black, poor male". My remarks concern first the "directly" and second "male": I think you should simply drop the "directly", for the question of how his hurt and difficulties are informed through such variables is an open question, if not the very question to be addressed through therapeutic practice. By dropping the directly, you would also more clearly state your case and the questioning of your paper, since you precisely address this how in many varied ways and show how it is to be articulated in the specific setting of your enquiry at Agape. But still, I wonder whether you are not indeed assuming too direct a determination between, or overstressing, the two far end of the process that you seek to analyze. Which means that you do not make explicit the sites where such a determination is not so direct or complicated by the intersecting of other power lines. This is where the "male" comes in to my view. Clearly, you seek to make a gender point throughout your argument. However, interestingly enough, you never articulate how the male/female power-knowledge works in ways that are potentially disrupting the white/male power line, if, as in your case, the therapist is a white female and the client a black male. The reader does not know what came out in this regard in the enquiry. This may also help you make an explicit link with your reference to "feminist theorizing" (3rd §; here also give maybe a reference or two) as some king of a model for rethinking and redoing therapy. By contrast, you work out very well the variables of race and class. One more general question: you use different terms to speak about the "self": "self", "subject", "personhood" that seem to be attached to the personal and the social as you say. We are not sure however, if these different terms do different things for your argument or whether you take them as synonyms, which would be fine if you make it clear from the outset. But I find it interesting that your first use of "personhood" occurs under "...Skin as a site of political meaning", that is, when your are more explicitly articulating "the interrelationship between language, self and the BODY" (1st §, my emphasis mine). This is probably use clarification, as it seems to operate more on a theory of “impersonation” or embodiment than of subject formation. But, you may not want to introduce this distinction either. Also, personhood seems to be a key term, since it is in the title of your paper, but never appears in the headings of your various sections. The notion of “self” does appear however in “The political-racial dimension of the South African Self”. "Theoretical Overview..." 1st §: You may want to refer to : John Langshaw Austin’s How to Do Things with Words (The William James Lectures Delivered at Harvard University in 1955. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1965), since he is the one to have invented this barbarian term as he says. 2nd §: I would go for and make clear Foucault’s term of “subjectivation” that was forged to precisely indicate the double productiveness of power, i.e., subjection and subject formation, since that is your point. Also, and as a possible reference to feminist theory in this regard (see my comment above), you may want to check: Judith Butler. The Psychic Life of Power. Theories in Subjection. Stanford CA, Stanford University Press. 1997. “Implications for the practice of therapy” 1st §, l. 4 bottom up: first occurrence of “ethical”; see also below “Theorising Experience….”, 2nd §, l. 10 and 13, top down. Why not speak of a theory of knowledge after all, for this is at least as much as it is, in my opinion. Or do you consider that ethical concerns should govern knowledge? However, it may mean that you place the politics of knowledge outside of knowledge, a gesture, which I think would weaken the strength and interest of your discussion, since you are precisely seeking to bring back the political in the “therapeutic domain” (see last line of previous section), while considering therapy as a knowledge practice. I wonder whether this distinction is not implicitly overwritten by the classic distinction between social activism and science. 2nd §, l. 3. bottom up: why use quotes around “racial” here, while your don’t in all other instances? Or would you prefer “racialised”? last §: l.3, top down: “…is that many models used ….endorse the performative view of language and the self discussed above”. That was not my impression, since you started out your paper stressing on the limits of your theoretical and language awareness, then itself, it seems challenged by the ecosystemic epistemology, which you end up finding unsatisfactory… “The political-racial dimensions of the South African Self” 1sr §: why quotes around “researchers” and not “participants” ? 2nd §, last sentence, bottom up: “ by what they said, as by who,and what remained silent ”: who’s the “who”? You say so in your following paragraph, where you attribute certain meanings to specific people, but not in this instance; also, about the silence, I was wondering whether you might like to say something here about the very fact of speaking out as a reiteration of experienced violence, as in the case of traumas or torture; ...apartheid discourse of difference, which postulates the existence of an unbreachable divide between black and white”. Yes, clearly yes. AND no, also no, in fact. I’m here thinking of a poster in the Apartheid Museum that indicated that x number of Indians became Chinese, or y number of Black that became Indians (to be checked) in year Y. Which also reminds me, by the way, that there are these other groups too. But my point here is that you may want to articulate the also institutional permeability and possible transfer from one racial category to the other. It is, to my opinion, something very important, that tends to be overlooked in analysis of power relationships. In your paper, this might provide you an entry for allowing space for more power/knowledge configurations that those of black and white, poor and rich, even though they are major power lines, there is no doubt about it. However, I think that one should also acknowledge the failure of power of fully realizing a black or white subject, hence the subversion within the working of power itself (Foucault again and your very point too). Last §, l. 3 bottom up: ”… naming of bodies…” How is it that the body returns in your argument precisely at the moment that you speak of the “risk of obscuring our differences” ? Isn’t precisely one of the effect of the Apartheid power regime, and of science for this matter…., to inscribe differences in the body ? Why should the body then be considered the site for the “very real subjective experiences of racism” (or later on the “lived experience” (l.2 bottom up of “Conclusion”) ? The anatomy of difference is a political anatomy, is body politics. “Conclusion” I do not understand any more your use of “romance”, and yet, I think I remember that it made sense to me at the conference with regard to Martin comment… I wonder now, whether it may not deflate the strong points that you make all throughout your paper. And that it may sound very “feminine” as an end note. Hope this may be helpful. And again, a great paper … and practice! Best, Cynthia Kraus (Lausanne, Switzerland, November 8 2002)
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