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[Xmca-l] Sociocritical Literacies and more context



Hello everyone,

Hope this note finds you all well.  Just adding to the conversation on literacies, social dreaming, the Migrant Program at UCLA (I was one of many that served the students during the early 2000s) and testimonio.

The idea of testimonio as an aspect of the "concrete" is cool.  To my mind, within that realm of really rich Soviet/Russian thinking, testimonio can be thought of as one way that human beings  remake social life guided by intellect and heart.  (Think of what testimonio accomplished in the context of 1980s Central America or mid-1990s South Africa.)  But the idea of testimonio as an aspect of the "abstract" seems right on as well.  Testimonio is also meaningful and comprehensive thought that explains reality better than what we had before.  Testimonio in the Migrant Program seemed to be both.  Thus, as the beloved Rusos teach us, you can ascend to both abstract and concrete.

I think about the time and effort that went into creating the autobiographies (a form of testimonio) that Profe Gutiérrez references.  They were a culmination for us as a scholarly community.  And they left people altered.  (Another cool insight inspired by Hegel and Marx - when humans learn, they become altered matter.  Living, breathing matter, capable of experiencing.  And in the words of Piaget, I believe, experiencing our experiences.)  The versatility, the many facets of testimonio are beautiful to ruminate on.  Given my life experience, I rejoice in thinking about the ways that testimonio - bearing witness to life via narrative - can give historical depth to a person's actions, to a community's actions.
To illustrate, I remember putting together the reader for the program.  We would stay all night in Moore Hall with making copies and feeling energized in thinking about migrant families sending their high school-aged children to reside and study with us for a month.  The way I pictured those families - and this is key for people like Marx Wartofsky who cared deeply about the actual look of our imaginations - was through a long corridor of experience.  It was just me at 2am extending the look down the hallway, but instead of a wall at the far end, I pictured families I knew, and imagined the ones I didn't know.  I could see them and they could see me.  Our work was similar in that instant: preparing the way for the youth.  At times, it was incredibly vivid, but that grew over time and through the many testimonios we fostered and experienced.  Even the testimonio requires witness for it to live on.  (See: Carolyn Forché  and her "poetry of witness.")  And that, too, had to be learned to an extent.  Who showed me?  Hector Álvarez, Carlos Tejeda, Profe Gutiérrez, Miguel Zavala, Shirin Vossoughi, the migrant parents, and others.  Now, that was a scholarly community.

Forgive the somewhat long message.  I been looking to post for years, but in the words of the Ents from Middle Earth, I wanted to say something that took time to say.  See you again in 2018 :)

Respetuosamente,

Manuel Luis Espinoza


Manuel