The idea that man invents his own realities is not a new one ... Nevertheless, the prospect of introducing this idea to ... a culture that wants very much to control its own realities (as all cultures do) is a difficult one. (Wagner, 1975: vii)
“Absolute” objectivity would require that the anthropologist have no biases, and hence no culture at all. (Wagner, 1975: 2)
We might actually say that an anthropologist “invents” the culture he believes himself to be studying ... Yet this explanation is only justified if we understand the invention to take place objectively, along the lines of observing and learning, and not as a kind of free fantasy. ... It is only through “invention” of this kind that the abstract significance of culture (and of many another concept) can be grasped, and only through the experienced contrast that his own culture becomes “visible.” In the act of inventing another culture, the anthropologist invents his own, and in fact he reinvents the notion of culture itself. (Wagner, 1975: 4)
This feeling is known to anthropologists as “culture shock.” In it the local “culture” first manifests itself to the anthropologist through his own inadequacy; against the backdrop of his new surroundings it is he who has become “visible.” The situation has some parallels within our own society: the freshman first entering college, the new army recruit, and anyone else who is compelled to live in “new” or alien surroundings, all have had some taste of this kind of “shock.” Typically the sufferer is depressed and anxious, he may withdraw into himself, or grasp at any chance to communicate with others. To a degree that we seldom realize, we depend on the participation of others in our lives, and upon our own participation in the lives of others. Our success and effectiveness as persons is based upon this participation, and upon an ability to maintain a controlling competence in communicating with others. Culture shock is a loss of the self through the loss of these supports. (Wagner, 1975: 6-7)
His efforts to understand the subjects of his research, to make them and their ways meaningful, and to communicate this meaningfulness to others, will grow out of his abilities to make meaning within his own culture. Whatever he “learns” from his subjects will therefore take the form of an extension or superstructure, built upon that which he already knows, and built of that which he already knows. He will “participate” in the subject culture, not in the way a native does, but as someone who is simultaneously enveloped in his own world of meanings, and these meanings will also participate. If we recall what was said earlier about relative objectivity, we remember it is the set of cultural predispositions that an outsider brings with him that make all the difference in his understanding of what is “there.” (Wagner, 1975: 8)
If culture were an absolute, objective “thing,” then “learning” it would be the same for all people, native as well as outsider, adult as well as child. But people have all sorts of predispositions and biases, and the notion of culture as an objective, inflexible entity can only be useful as a sort of “prop” to aid the anthropologist in his invention and understanding. For this, and for many other purposes in anthropology, it is necessary to proceed as if culture existed as some monolithic “thing,” but for the purpose of demonstrating how it is that an anthropologist attains his comprehension of another, it is necessary to realize the culture is a “prop.” (Wagner, 1975: 8-9)
How would you as a theorist of new media convince me that IT can be used to develop active partcipants in cultural dialogues who can recognize the need to develop a localized understanding (disciplinary knowledge/discourse community) and map it onto a broader epistemological playing field?
The critical educator operates as a two-way conduit translating new knowledge for our designated field and transmitting new specialized local knowledge beyond disciplinary boundaries. In the interaction/transference new meanings/understandings will arise. How would this play out in the development of IT ...
Lastly, I am concerned about the efforts to develop a form of cultural rewriting that questions the “naturalness” of the dominant construction of historical reality and brings into dialogue the “patronymic relationships” that are masked by this discourse (Saldivar, 1997: 14). The materialist feminist Rosemary Hennessey describes this practice as a “disarticulation/rearticulation” in which the creator of a text takes an event, a personage, or a cultural history and re-presents a competing narrative reality. The most important factor of this process is that it presents us (readers/viewers/listeners) with a “powerful strategy for rewriting the theoretical texts we encounter”—whether they are artistic, political, social, historical, popular, or business discourses, they are all attempting to profess a position, or, taking a pedagogical stance (Hennessey, 1993: 7). Gomez-Pena’s performative pedagogy (detailed in my paper)—which also has similarities with Gilles Deleuze’s and Felix Guattari’s “deterritorialization/reterritorialization” (1987), Ramona Fernandez’s “reimagining of literacy” (2001), Chela Sandoval’s “methodology of the oppressed” (2000) and Situationist tactics of “detournement” (1981)—enhances the chances of creating an active and creative public who can better recognize ideological fictions and manipulative cultural/political myths. The critical organization theorists David Boje and Robert Dennehy (1994) point out that:
People who do not tell stories well, listen to stories effectively and learn to deconstruct those stories with a skeptical ear will be more apt to be victims of … exploitation and power games. Stories have many interpretations. If one interpretation gets pasted over all the rest and becomes a dominant or the only political acceptable way to interpret events, we have ideology, domination, and disempowerment. Part of exploitation is to deny an interpretation, point of view, or experience, that differs from the dominant view. Rhetoric about healthy, happy, and terrific harmony and unity can mask just the opposite reality. A simple sounding moral or prescription about consensus or teamwork can mask deeper costs in terms of power and domination. (Boje and Dennehy 1993: 339)
Will the development of IT help us to understand the stories we tell about the world and our place in it... Will IT help us to recognize how these stories always have a purpose in the defining of a particular reality and ensuring a certain hegemonic structure? If so, How? If not, why?
The geographer Shirley Ardener states that:. . . as anyone who has played chess will know, objects are affected by the place in space of other objects; not only their presence, and their position, but even their absence, or ‘negative’ presence’, may be important. (Ardener, 1993: 3)What are the implications of the disembodied educator?Thanks Martin for stimulating my thoughts on these matters,Michael Benton
. . . as anyone who has played chess will know, objects are affected by the place in space of other objects; not only their presence, and their position, but even their absence, or ‘negative’ presence’, may be important. (Ardener, 1993: 3)
What are the implications of the disembodied educator?
Thanks Martin for stimulating my thoughts on these matters,