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[Xmca-l] Re: A supplement to David's reflection on Translatability



Martin,
I'm trying to make a finer point here, and one that I take from Chapters 9
& 10 of your lovely book, the Science of Qualitative Research.

If one wants to understand the workings of system (e.g., of oppression)
from the perspective of others (e.g., the the powerful), then one needs to
encounter the system as those who inhabit that system would inhabit it.

If one inhabits power solely with the interests of changing the system,
then one suddenly becomes a different kind of actor, with different
interests and motivations - unable to see the workings of the system that
are most essential to the powerful. (and how many idealists have resided in
the academy with hopes of "changing the system" and have failed? This isn't
to say that they/we shouldn't keep trying... just to say that there might
be value in taking another approach - to fully inhabit the horizons of a
powerful academic and describe that experience. I'm taking this a bit
further and in a more cynical (sinister?) direction than MS would take it.
And I don't think that this is quite what MS is doing. But I think there is
an argument to be made here).

Again, this is not MS's argument. It is one that I am toying with here.

-greg
​

On Sat, Jan 2, 2016 at 10:45 AM, Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co
> wrote:

> I'm certainly not trying to suggest that MS lacks ethics!  On the
> contrary, I think his diagnosis of the university as generally an
> institution of normalization (in the sense of evaluating everyone, no
> matter their diverse abilities and backgrounds, against a single standard
> that derives from an elite) is an ethical diagnosis. My point is that if it
> is so hard to change the university even when one has a fair degree of
> power (MS is a named "distinguished service professor" in not one but three
> departments - anthropology, linguistics, and psychology - as well as member
> of the Committee on Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities), then this
> suggests that there is not much merit in pointing out the operation of
> power to (powerless) undergraduates!
>
> Martin
>
> On Jan 2, 2016, at 12:08 PM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Well, I'm not sure that this is what Larry's intent was, but it does have
> > obvious relevance.
> >
> > It seems to me that one can "escape" normalisation, if one is ethical.
> > Ethics are what defines a profession.  Without ethics we are merely guns
> > for hire.
> >
> > Best,
> > Huw
> >
> >
> > On 2 January 2016 at 16:57, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> >> Yes, I see the contradiction there. I had the same reaction when I first
> >> heard MS say it in his Language in Culture seminar (MS is not afraid to
> >> repeat himself, indeed, in his short manuscript on Abe Lincoln, he notes
> >> that the Gettysburg address had a long history in Abe's mouth and among
> his
> >> friends prior to being said in its canonical version).
> >>
> >> If I may give the sympathetic reading, one might make the
> anthropological
> >> argument that one must fully inhabit an oppressive regime in order to
> >> understand it. Thus, using his Wizard of Oz metaphor, we might say that
> the
> >> position that MS is inhabiting is simultaneously Toto and the Wizard.
> >>
> >> I think that this can provide the seeds of revolutionary action by
> exposing
> >> the workings of power to critique by others who can see those
> >> inner-workings but without having to fully participate in them.
> >>
> >> [and perhaps this goes back to an older question I have about
> understanding
> >> a system from the "inside" as opposed to from the "outside" - or
> perhaps in
> >> a more Gadamerian sense we might just speak about these as two different
> >> horizons of understanding the system?].
> >>
> >> -greg
> >>
> >> On Sat, Jan 2, 2016 at 9:34 AM, Martin John Packer <
> >> mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >>> No, my point was that one the one hand we have a call to be
> >>> "citizen-scientists" in the face of oppression, while on the other hand
> >> we
> >>> have a confession that although the university is "at the highest
> >> pinnacle
> >>> of what you might call the oppressive regime" grading will continue as
> >>> usual.
> >>>
> >>> If we can't change the very institution we work in, what kind of
> >>> citizen-scientists are we?
> >>>
> >>> Martin
> >>>
> >>> On Jan 2, 2016, at 11:10 AM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
> >>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> Martin,
> >>>> I'm not clear on what the expectation was that the speakers were
> >> setting
> >>> up?
> >>>> To pull back the curtain to reveal the role that language plays in
> >> social
> >>>> stratification?
> >>>> You don't suppose that this can be found elsewhere in their work?
> >>> ("their"
> >>>> in the generic sense of "linguistic anthropologists' work").
> >>>> Seems a tall order to fill in a single conversation between just two
> >>> people.
> >>>> -greg
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> On Sat, Jan 2, 2016 at 6:52 AM, Martin John Packer <
> >>> mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
> >>>> wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>>>> Its only disappointing if you thought that anything else could come
> >> out
> >>>>> of
> >>>>>> it.   Note that this was uttered in the context of ethics.
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Best, Huw
> >>>>>
> >>>>> But the speakers themselves set up this expectation! Here are the
> >>>>> remaining remarks:
> >>>>>
> >>>>> MS: Yes, exactly. Indeed there are norms even of these other
> >> components,
> >>>>> these non-denotational components as we were saying. They're
> >> understood
> >>> in
> >>>>> terms of a folk system of enrigisterment, but there's lots of other
> >>>>> variation as well that people are actually behaving in terms of and
> >>> working
> >>>>> in terms of. But this one particular, massively complex system - to
> >>> which
> >>>>> indeed the aspiration of working under the umbrella of superdiversity
> >>>>> responds - is indeed a complex one in which people confuse standard
> >>>>> register with normativity in the first place, and they confuse
> >> language
> >>>>> with denotational structure. So all of these sorts of things that
> >> we've
> >>>>> taken decades and decades to pull apart, at least so that they become
> >>>>> visible to us as students of languaging, as it were get collapsed
> into
> >>> one.
> >>>>> And most importantly and - as you pointed out - most tellingly, they
> >>> become
> >>>>> instruments of oppression and stratification.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> JB: At the individual level.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> MS: At the individual level, through various kinds of
> >> institutionalized
> >>>>> forms so that you are summoned as a citizen-scientist to say: 'Where
> >> do
> >>> I
> >>>>> stand on using my knowledge to, as it were, maybe illuminate people,
> >>> maybe
> >>>>> reveal what's going on.'
> >>>>>
> >>>>> JB: At least show what's going on. That's the least we can do.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> MS: That's the least we can do. There is a wonderful scene in the
> 1939
> >>>>> Hollywood movie 'The Wizard of Oz' in which...
> >>>>>
> >>>>> JB: 'The witch is dead'
> >>>>>
> >>>>> MS: no no it's not that the witch is dead
> >>>>>
> >>>>> JB: ...a hit a few weeks ago when Margaret Thatcher died
> >>>>>
> >>>>> MS: that's a different story! Leave the Baroness out of this... there
> >>> is a
> >>>>> wonderful scene in which Toto - the little dog of Dorothy - pulls
> >> back a
> >>>>> curtain when you see the mountebank, the snake-oil salesman, working
> >> the
> >>>>> levers of the machine that's running this thing which supports
> >>> [purports?]
> >>>>> to be Oz. And we can certainly try to be that little Toto.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> JB: So on that note thank you very very much, Michael.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> MS: Well it's always a pleasure to talk to you guys!
> >>>>>
> >>>>> On Jan 1, 2016, at 11:38 PM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>
> >>> wrote:
> >>>>>
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> On 2 January 2016 at 03:04, Martin John Packer <
> >>> mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
> >>>>>> wrote:
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>>> It's a little disappointing that they oppressed their own
> >> conversation
> >>>>> at
> >>>>>>> the following point, no?
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> Martin
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> MS [Michael Silverstein]:  I say to my students all the time: 'now
> >>> that
> >>>>>>> I've revealed to you the entire massive machinery of
> >> socio-linguistic
> >>>>>>> oppression, of stratification around the standard and so on, that
> >> will
> >>>>> not
> >>>>>>> stop me from correcting your papers because my institution is at
> the
> >>>>>>> highest pinnacle of what you might call the oppressive regime'.
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> JB [Jan Blommaert]: Absolutely. And at the same time - maybe this
> >>> could
> >>>>> be
> >>>>>>> a useful conclusion of this conversation - at the same time it
> >> proves
> >>>>> also
> >>>>>>> that there is no absence of norms, there is no shortage of norms
> >> even
> >>>>> in a
> >>>>>>> sociocultural organization of language. Normativity is everywhere.
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> On Jan 1, 2016, at 9:16 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> >> wrote:
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> I decided to start a new thread because I did not want to shift
> the
> >>>>>>> focus that David’s thread opened up on myth busting.
> >>>>>>>> However, I do want to share a paper on the topic of
> translatability
> >>> and
> >>>>>>> the uses of standardization that does overlap somewhat with the
> >> other
> >>>>>>> thread.
> >>>>>>>> The format is a conversation between Michael Silverstein, Jef Van
> >> de
> >>>>> Aa,
> >>>>>>> and Jan Blommaert.
> >>>>>>>> Entering this conversation exploring the notion of translatability
> >>> as a
> >>>>>>> culturally bound philosophical construct may have some relevance
> for
> >>> the
> >>>>>>> other thread ongoing.
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> Sent from Mail for Windows 10
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> <NOVEMBER 4 2014 390 BLOMMAERT and
> >>> Silverstein_in_conversation.pdf>
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> --
> >>>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> >>>> Assistant Professor
> >>>> Department of Anthropology
> >>>> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> >>>> Brigham Young University
> >>>> Provo, UT 84602
> >>>> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>
> >>
> >> --
> >> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> >> Assistant Professor
> >> Department of Anthropology
> >> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> >> Brigham Young University
> >> Provo, UT 84602
> >> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
> >>
>
>
>


-- 
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson