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The Groundings of a Commonwealth: Workshop on Forging Environmental Ethics Through Reading and Telling Stories

I created my third web event with every intention of deriving from it a workshop meant to bring together Israeli and Palestinian young adults over shared literatures. Literature was a medium through which, I had argued, right relationships had the space and time to emerge, and was a form particularly suited toward broader socio-political change. While I was excited about this final web event and its possibilities, I was also somewhat daunted by my own distance from the site of relationship building. I was also concerned by the spatial impracticalities of actually translating this workshop into action. I have become, through the course of the semester, very interested in how academic conversation can be used as groundwork for activity and doing; it seemed duplicitous to consider in my postings how “a group of listeners becomes a group of actors,” and even create frameworks for such a transition, but have no intention of taking this kind of action myself.

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"Each is the Other": Israeli-Palestinian Literature and the Potentials for Right Relationships

Introduction           

For my web event, I want to bring Sharon Welch’s claim regarding the power of literature to bear on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. Currently, the Palestinian and Israeli residents of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza hold varied and often oppositional views on their rights to statehood. Many Israeli residents believe that Israel and the territories of the West Bank and Gaza should exist under the state of Israel; many Palestinian residents believe that the territories should be clearly demarcated as the state of Palestine; and many Israelis and Palestinians are somewhere in between, morally and nationally divided in a situation complicated by majority/minority relations, religious identities, and ancestral/historical claims to land.

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Disability and Sex Workers

I stumbled upon this video today on the feminist site Jezebel...

What do y'all think? One thing that interests me about this documentary is that I find it very difficult to visualize a conmparative one about disabled women and a male sex worker, or about LGBTQ disabled individuals and sex workers (this is also a concern brought up in the comments on Jezebel). Of course, this documentary doesn't need to address the whole, multifaceted issue of disability and sexuality... but I think that the documentary, as previewed through the trailer, shatters some conceptions of sexuality (like the supposed asexuality of disabled people) while implicitly upholding others (like heteronormativity, or the greater male desire for sex). 

 

 

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Buzzing and Bumbling Thoughts

"Everyone wants to make a difference, Sarah, but there's a time and place." (233)

I'm learning many things from this course. Perhaps the most meaningful thing I've been asked to consider thus far is the moral imperative of precarity. Or, the responsibility I have toward other humans in precarious situations of ensuring that I am as dedicated to change as they are. Or, in the words of Juan Segundo, "Unless we agree that the world should not be the way it is … there is no point of contact, because the world that is satisfying to us is the same world that is utterly devastating to them." Or, the importance of connections and of making a difference.

Another concept I've been presented with is the notion that there is concreteness neither of time nor of place, that my thoughts and actions echo resoundingly from the before and into the after and overlap so as to make distinctions of before and after quite impossible to make out. The issue is not causality, then, "no longer ensuring the fulfillment of certain aims but setting in place a set of conditions for justice, flexibility, and responsiveness." (Welch 24)

"I do not need to tell this story to anyone else. Thank you for saving me, Sarah." (257)

"We won't ever give up on Little Bee. Because she is a part of our family now. And until she is happy and safe, then I don't think we will be either." (261)

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Thoughts from the Other Hand

"Everyone wants to make a difference, Sarah, but there's a time and place." (233)

I'm learning many things from this course. Perhaps the most meaningful thing I've been asked to consider thus far is the moral imperative of precarity. Or, the responsibility I have toward other humans in precarious situations of ensuring that I am as dedicated to change as they are. Or, in the words of Juan Segundo, "Unless we agree that the world should not be the way it is … there is no point of contact, because the world that is satisfying to us is the same world that is utterly devastating to them." Or, the importance of connections and of making a difference.

Another concept I've been presented with is the notion that there is concreteness neither of time nor of place, that my thoughts and actions echo resoundingly from the before and into the after and overlap so as to make distinctions of before and after quite impossible to make out. The issue is not causality, then, "no longer ensuring the fulfillment of certain aims but setting in place a set of conditions for justice, flexibility, and responsiveness." (Welch 24)

"I do not need to tell this story to anyone else. Thank you for saving me, Sarah." (257)

"We won't ever give up on Little Bee. Because she is a part of our family now. And until she is happy and safe, then I don't think we will be either." (261)

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Haverford's Honor Code and the Justices of Rights and Right Relationships

As I read Humbach’s piece on the difference between the justice of rights and the justice of right relationships, I kept thinking about how the author would react to Haverford’s Honor Code. According to Humbach, the justice of rights prioritizes the abstract and cannot truly inform the “intricacy of interactions among persons.” On the other hand, the justice of right relationships comprises a worldview more than anything, a means by which an individual, without compromising her individuality, seeks to “be attentive and responsive to the needs and emotions of one another” in a way that supersedes any written rules. 

I do think that Haverford’s Honor Code actually works more toward the justice of right relationships than the justice of rights. The Code is, according to its website, “not a set of rules, but rather an articulation of ideals and expectations emphasizing genuine connection and engagement with one another, and the creation of an atmosphere of trust, concern, and respect.” These attributes are, then, all more reflective of the justice of right relationships than the justice of rights. Trust, concern, and respect are not rules so much as ethical guidelines, upon which any relationship is necessarily grounded; they are also guidelines loose enough so as not to be particular to only certain situations.

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Symphonies of Science and Diffraction

chelseam and I listened to this song all the time last year. It was only tonight, though, when we revisited the video, that we realized that Barad could totally jam to this! Enjoy-- and remember, "we are all connected." 

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Symphonies of Science and Diffraction

chelseam and I listened to this song all the time last year. It was only tonight, though, when we revisited the video, that we realized that Barad could totally jam to this! Enjoy-- and remember, "we are all connected." 

See video
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Les Guerilleres, Performativity, and Diffraction

As I was listening to Judith Butler talk last night about the power of performativity, I was reminded of a passage from a feminist book I'm reading called Les Guerilleres, written in 1969 by Monique Wittig. The novel is made up of many interdependent paragraph-passages, which taken together envision a society where the patriarchy has been bloodily dismantled by a group of warrior women. The following is an early passage from the book:

By the lakeside there is an echo. As they stand there with an open book the chosen passages are re-uttered from the other side by a voice that becomes distant and repeats itself. Lucie Maure cries to the double echo the phrase of Phenarete, I say that that which is is. I say that that which is not also is. When she repeats the phrase several times the double, then triple voice endlessly superimposes that which is and that which is not. The shadows brooding over the lake shift and begin to shiver because of the vibrations of the voice. (Wittig 14)

The guerilleres must create a new society from the wreckage of their warfare. The only way to build a new order is through a new language, a language that builds meaning and form through its very iteration. So the language in Les Gureilleres is echoic, less focused on temporality than intertextuality (in the continued repetition of themes and images between the alinear passages, in the emphasis on folklore and books, etc.).

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The Rainbow of Sex Difference: A Snippet from a Preteen Health Book

For my second web event, I chose to convey the concept of the healthy diversity of sex organs in the form of a preteen-and-up health book. As I was growing up, whenever I had questions about my growth or development that I might not have felt comfortable discussing with my parents or peers, I’d turn to one of these books. (The one I owned and referred to most often was the American Girl book The Care and Keeping of You.) I had a lot of questions, and most of them centered on an anxiety of normalcy. My concept of what was biologically and psychologically “normal” and what was not was almost entirely based on the information included in these colorful, approachable books. In fact, a wonderful health book to which I owe a lot of this project’s information and tone is even titled It’s Perfectly Normal. These health books are definitely valuable sources of information, but this information is often normalized and therefore presented as the only viable or healthy route in growth and development.

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