[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: Article for Discussion

Thank you David and Alfredo for being among the first intrepid readers and
for your positive comments on the article.

I also want to thank Mike, Bonnie, Jen, Victor, and Natalia for their
organization, support, and persistence in promoting this article for

I want to introduce myself to you all and to address any questions and
discussion points that come up in this thread.

I am from Zimbabwe and have lived in Norway, Australia, and the United
States (Massachusetts and California). I left Zimbabwe in 2003, years after
the contentious land reform program of 1999-2001. After all agricultural
production ceased in those years, the country slid into a state of economic
free fall that persists and worsens today. The displacement of livelihoods,
and of a Zimbabwean diaspora, has forced new activities to emerge:
kukiya-kiya, the everyday hustle that allows citizens to make-do, to source
food, money, and deals that can get them by for one more day.

This research is inspired by the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe. Because of
economic collapse, Zimbabweans describe themselves as being on the margins,
or fringes, politically, geographically, historically. More simply put:
these are not normal times for the country, and the crisis isolates its
citizens from the rest of the world. One scholar of the crisis, Jeremy
Jones, has referred to this difficult period for Zimbabweans as a
"suspension of the spatio-temporal horizon." (referenced in the article as
Jones, 2010) Because the crisis translates to the collapse and disrepair of
everyday tools and infrastructure, I find it more helpful to look at the
crisis as an environment of heightened sensory attention to the material
that make the relationships between mind, culture, and activity more
pronounced. The objects surrounding us, in their state of displacement or
disgrace, don't only communicate affordances in regards to possible
physical action, they also inspire a very productive questioning (and
sometimes despair) and reimagining of who we are as social beings.

David is very right in drawing attention to the concept of disinheritance
as a marriage of Marx's alienation and Vygotsky's cultural heritage. With
the concept of disinheritance, I am trying to embrace both, so that we can
think about the mind with an eye for processes that alienate or
disenfranchise learners. What is going on in the mind when one is alienated
from present activity? In what ways can the activity of making do
(resourcefulness or the hustle to survive in abnormal times) enrich the
models we have for mind and culture?

To Alfredo's last comment about the many connections and pursuit of open
threads - what a pleasant and happy outcome! I have every hope that, while
this is indeed a case study from a very unusual time and place, the concept
of disinheritance can be useful for examining everyday activity in normal
times too. Recently, a colleague who studies the history of segregation in
the United States, mentioned she could see disinheritance at play in
"Whites-only" spaces and objects. I am curious to hear what other threads
and connections XMCA readers find.

Looking forward to more discussion,


On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 7:13 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>

> I could not agree more with David's remarks concerning the beautiful
> writing and the sensory explosions that this article is replete with.
> Indeed, as I was reading it, I was thinking that the reading had a
> synesthetic aspect to it, as if moving through so very diverse concepts and
> metaphors was like seeing lots of vivid colours one after another, some
> more enlightening, others almost blinding, but all forming an incredibly
> dense wave of topics on the intermeshing of culture and cognition.
> Among the many (not always followed-up) instances, I found the analysis on
> the section "gendered intimacy" particularly appealing in that the analysis
> shows how the designers come to understand a prosthetic prototype in and
> through reference to actual breasts and breastfeeding in a culture, and by
> the same token, come to understand actual breasts and breastfeeding as
> manifestations of a gendered culture in and through an inquiry into a
> prosthetic prototype. The same goes for the contrasts between younger and
> older generations, urban and rural...
> The connections are so many that invite to reading like those books that
> offer different possibilities to continue the story, and where you can
> choose jumping from one page to a non-contiguous page depending on the
> thread you follow. I personally will go back to the text and will follow
> some of the opened threads that, precisely because of their low fidelity,
> allow moving quite flexibly. But I also hope not to get lost, or just
> disconnected, and so I guess some degree of fidelity will also be needed.
> Thanks for a great read.
> Alfredo
> ________________________________________
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> on behalf of David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> Sent: 05 October 2016 04:44
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Article for Discussion
> The first thing I notice about the paper is how "resplendent" it is in
> beautiful writing, e.g,
> "Given this symmetry between prototyping and kukiya-kiya, a prototyping bin
> resplendent with objects of disinheritance would be a powerful way to see
> the confluence of mind, culture, and activity."
> The very next sentence tells us that the prototyping bin is really an old
> plastic tub "populated with a sensory explosion of" matter out of place.
> Dear XMCA reader, if you haven't read it yet, you are in for a treat.
> The second thing I notice, though, is the sensory explosion of new
> concepts, many of which are unexplained, but make perfect sense if you sit
> and think about them. Let me just take the new concepts that appear in my
> example sentences, and see if I can gloss them; the author can let me know
> if I have him right.
> Prototyping means developing objects from "low-fidelity" (that is, poor
> copies) to "high resolution technology" (i.e. not copies at all, but new
> objects). So prototyping involves the emergence of NEW technologies from
> the inability to copy the old. For example, in China when the old Soviet
> tractors designed for giant Kolkhoz farms all broke down, they introduced
> walking tractors (which you can still see everywhere, and which have now
> spread to Korea).
> Kukiya-kiya means the exaptation of high resolution technology for
> relatively low-fidelity purposes that are more suitable to an economy now
> thrown back on a pre-imperialist and even pre-mercantilist subsistence
> economy. For example, in the Korean countryside, when peasants run out of
> washing powder for their washing machines, they use them to store
> rice. It's in that sense that kukiya-kiya is the opposite of prototyping; a
> symmetrical process.
> Disinheritance means not simply alienation, in the Marxist sense of being
> confronted by but unable to reappropriate the objects of your own labor,
> but being written out of the cultural endowment altogether, because the
> artifacts you have "inherited" confront you as white elephants, requiring
> more maintenance than they can possibly justify.
> I wonder if high resolution technology isn't intrinsically disinheriting.
> For example, kids can still play board games that are thousands of years
> old, but they can't use videogames that were made only decades ago. In
> contrast, the finest extant technology for making sense of human
> experience, namely language, is decidedly soft on hardware.
> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University.
> On Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 9:51 AM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
> > Dear Xmca-ers --
> >
> > Back in June I made a hurried attempt to make available for discussion
> the
> > paper on the design process of Zimbabwean medical professionals seeking
> to
> > create an unusual kind of prosthetic devices. Summer and some
> communication
> > came rushing up to overwhelm the effort.
> >
> > Zaza has been back in touch and is ready to discuss the paper. I am
> cutting
> > and pasting the title and abstract below. And I am attaching the paper
> > which was open for free access for a while, but if it is now, I cannot
> find
> > where on the publisher's re-designed web page.
> >
> > Summer having passed other impediments will surely arise, but in the
> > meantime, here is a very unusual paper about design for us to think
> about.
> >
> > mike
> >