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[Xmca-l] Re: Article for Discussion
When you say that all agricultural production ceased in Zimbabwe during the
land reform, I take it that you mean that agricultural commodity production
ceased. But one of the things that usually happens during big upsets like
this is a reversion to subsistence agriculture: people grow stuff and eat
it instead of selling it. This happened in China in the late fifties and is
still happening in North Korea. Isn't it possible that is really what
It's also not clear to me how complete the collapse of the infrastructure
really is. One of the things that struck me in reading your article was
that the workshop takes place in a well equipped conference room, where
there are apparently video facilities and working electricity. There's also
no mention of something that is often even more basic than electricity,
namely running water; presumably if the mother is going to be producing
formula, she has to have access to clean water.
Vygotsky talks a lot (at the end of almost every chapter in "The History of
the Development of the Higher Psychological Functions) about a kind of
pathogenetic analysis: that is, seeing the decay of higher functions as an
example of their development in reverse motion (a stripping away of layers
to reveal how they were laid on in the first place). We often forget that
over two thirds of his written work--and almost all of his published
work--was either pedology or "defectology" rather than psychology or
cultural historical theory.
It's possible to think of what is happening in Zimbabwe (and similar
instances of kukiya-kiya in Cuba and even China after the Soviets were
expelled) as an instance of cultural-historical pathogenesis: the "nice
things" of colonialism and mercantilism get stripped away and the layer of
subsistence agriculture on which it all developed hundreds of years ago is
revealed again. Use values predominate over exchange values, just as when a
stroke victim loses control of the "znachenie" of words but retains their
On Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 1:15 AM, Zaza Kabayadondo <email@example.com
> 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > 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
> > 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
> > the section "gendered intimacy" particularly appealing in that the
> > shows how the designers come to understand a prosthetic prototype in and
> > through reference to actual breasts and breastfeeding in a culture, and
> > 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: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > on behalf of David Kellogg <email@example.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
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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
> > >