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[Xmca-l] Re: Article for Discussion



Mike, Zazza:

What high resolution technologies seems to refer to is the ability to
produce exact copies, e.g. a breast prosthesis with simulated skin,
simulated nipple, and other "nice things", the sort of thing that Angelina
Jolie had with her double mastectomy rather than the low-fidelity
prosthetic devices in Zazza's article, which allowed Zimbabwean men to
enjoy breast-feeding for the first time in their cultural history.

I think Mike is right and "high resolution technology" is too narrow for
the phenomenon, but maybe "technologies that require high levels of
socially coordinated action sustained over long periods of time to create"
is a little too wide: temple-building, language, and literature all
qualify, but they do not necessarily involve disinheritance. I think Zazza
is really just looking at a diachronic dimension of good old fashioned
alienation, like making Louis Vuitton handbags in Hunan province, where
nobody has a real sense of commodity as a serious social signifier).

High fidelity prosthetics need capital intensive technology, but capital
intensive technology can also be very low fidelity (a welding robot, as
opposed to a flesh-and-blood welder). Contrariwise, labor intensive
technology can be surprisingly high fidelity: handwriting, for example, or
pronunciation. Halliday says that the differentiation of the content plane
of thinking between "meaning" and "wording" is what essentially created the
human brain. But the differentiation of the expression plane, between
phonetics and phonology, is what created writing, and writing made it
possible to turn culture into history.

"Ontogeny recreates history" is a gross oversimplification, of course:
what ontogeny really does to history is to slow it down and continue it
by new and more volitional means, just as history was able to slow down
evolution and continue it without killing off everything that doesn't quite
fit. True, life gets shorter and shorter the more you get into it, but with
writing it hardly matters: other people will continue my thoughts far
better than I can, precisely because I have to think them in a time and
place where we starve the thoughts that don't quite fit.

I am always curious at the sharp intake of breath that you get from people
when they hear the term "defectology". The very same people will not bat an
eye when you say "disabled". Functionalism? Or just another spin the
euphemistic treadmill?

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

On Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 11:13 AM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> Hi All-
>
> This conversation has sparked some really interesting ideas already. I
> wanted to highlight two of your comments, David, that struck me as worth
> digging more deeply in to before they fly away into the past.
>
>
>
> The first was from yesterday's initial note and the second from today's
> responding to Zaza's note.
>
>
>
> Each got me thinking. Regarding the first pausing points for me was where
> you wrote toward the end of your note
>
>
>
> *I wonder if high resolution technology isn't intrinsically disinheriting*
> *..*
>
>
>
> So here is provoked thought #1. Might it be useful to answer your question
> in the affirmative, and generalize it beyond high resolution technology to
> "technologies that require high levels of socially coordinated action
> sustained over long periods of time to create." Maybe something as general
> as  "very valuable technologies" might be intrinsicially dis-inheriting.
> The social processes involved in creating those technologies are rife with
> existing inequalities of rank/status/role........ and, except in
> exceptional circumstances (?) those inequalities are increased with the
> introduction of new higher resolution/more valuable,
>
>
>
> Anyway, i believe the answer to your question is yes, even if I think so
> for confused reasons (!)
>
>
>
> Second
>
> Making the analogy between LSV's (and ARL's) insistence on the importance
> of the study of decline and such regressions in Zimbabwe and elsewhere was
> really thought provoking for me.
>
>
>
> And linking this to his defektology is also helpful.
>
>
>
>
>
> *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). *
>
>
>
> In my view, the revival of interest in Vygotsky's defektology as a
> methodological commitment as well as a moral commitment seems like one of
> the potential growing points of contemporary CHAT studies.
>
>
>
> To make the parallel with historical change provides the other side to
> Luria's optimistic view of 1931.The first entry that comes up under Fergana
> Valley, a site of his work in Central Asia on google is the following:
>
>
>
> http://enews.fergananews.com/index.php?did=2&bracket_flag=1
>
>
>
> Plenty of kukiya-kiya going on in that area of the world these days, I
> suspect.
>
>
>
> Are we back to the view, which Dewey implemented as part of his curriculum,
> that ontogeny recapitulates history? For better and for worse?
>
>
>
> Thanks all for all the thought generation.
>
>
>
> mike
>
> On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 1:57 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > Zaza:
> >
> > 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
> > happened?
> >
> > 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
> > "smysl".
> >
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Macquarie University
> >
> > On Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 1:15 AM, Zaza Kabayadondo <
> > zaza.kabayadondo@gmail.com
> > > wrote:
> >
> > > 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
> > > discussion.
> > >
> > > 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,
> > >
> > > Zaza
> > >
> > > On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 7:13 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <
> a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > 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
> > > > >
> > > >
> > >
> >
>
>
>
> --
>
> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an object
> that creates history. Ernst Boesch
>