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[Xmca-l] Re: Time for a Generational Change



Even as a relative youngster (~10 yr old), my debt to Mike (and XMCA) is
far greater than could be even approached in a comment, so I'll leave it at
that and instead try to contribute to the conversation going forward,
particularly David's intractable problem - the second of Mike's concerns
(and I should add that I see the first problem as being just as
intractable, only I have no clue of how to help with that one - shame since
I suspect that I'm part of the problem...).

The second problem - of never really building anything in terms of
meaningful/useful concepts - seems to me to be a problem of the
interdisciplinary nature of the listserve.

As one example, David Kellogg and I have had some of this difficulty.
Despite being very close in a number of ways (including, of course, an
interest in CHAT, an interest in language in the classroom, and having
spent two months researching together this past summer), there were some
fundamental hurdles that we encountered when working together. Most notable
was the hurdle of language about language (yes, "metalanguage" if you
must). David hails from the Halliday-ian tradition and I come from the
Silverstein-ian tradition and each of these traditions have different ways
of talking about language that make it difficult for us to carry on any
kind of high level conversation. Case and point, when lecturing to the same
group of students this past summer I thought I was helping clarify what
David meant by "indexicality" by providing some examples. But it turned out
that I was offering an entirely different definition for the term that
threw things out of whack for our students. Simple put, our concept of
"indexicality" was not shared.

Now, if crossing boundaries is that difficult for two very like-minded
scholars, then how much more difficult is it to be able to do this work
across disciplinary lines that would include psychologists and sociologists
and others?

So, I hate to be a naysayer but I wonder how it could possibly work.

But then I am reminded that it has worked for almost 40 years and at times
it has been highly productive (I've had conversations with members off-line
who have mentioned times when there was consistent and sustained high level
work - beyond mere chaining - happening on the listserve).

So my question to the mature XMCA-philes is: how did it work in the best of
times? Was the make-up of the listserve different - perhaps less
disciplinarily varied (I'm guessing not since I know that biologists were
on the list back in the day - e.g., Tomasello). Was it a smaller community?
How did you deal with the trouble of disparate training and backgrounds and
languages?

How did it work when it worked at its best?

And I suppose that we could ask the mature XMCA-philes the same question
about the involvement of women on the listserve.

I'd love to hear thoughts.
-greg


On Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 4:57 PM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>
wrote:

> V. funny David.  I was going to wait for the 5 year olds to start speaking,
> but I'll put my "thank you" in here now, seeing as I've been mentioned.
> Actually, as I recall, I started my questioning on the basis of putting a
> table of comparisons together. :)
>
> I think the points Mike made can be turned over a number of times --
> perhaps the repetition is part of the longevity, though I have no idea
> where this bloke boundary is, so assume I must be a regular trespasser in
> order to traipse out a point or two.
>
> Thanks Mike.
>
> Best,
> Huw
>
> On 24 October 2016 at 23:30, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > An excellent example of sociogenetic regression--Mike abandons
> > husbandry and reverts to a form of hunting and gathering, viz.
> fly-fishing.
> >
> > On the first problem--the mansplaining blokey-ness of xmca. I think this
> at
> > least partly solved in the make-up the editorial committee of the
> journal.
> > One might object that editing is really an administrative function, and
> so
> > this is yet another example of the feminization of lowly roles. I think
> > that is not true generally and certainly not true at MCA: I can remember,
> > actually, when a whole genre of articles (the shorter pieces) could be
> > suddenly abolished by editorial fiat. And, as Mike says, xmca is really,
> at
> > bottom, a forum for the discussion of provocative articles in MCA.
> >
> > The second problem seems more intractable to me, but for that very
> reason I
> > think it is probably less specific to xmca. Instead of managing to build
> > vertical knowledge structures, as in the natural sciences, with each
> layer
> > resting on and in principle reducible to the lower layer, social
> scientists
> > tend to create horizontal ones, with their own tribal rules, rites of
> > passage, and above all their own forms of discourse. Interestingly, the
> > kind of "interdisciplinarity" that MCA has always encourages, based on
> very
> > specific topics but subtended by a vast body of all embracing theory,
> seems
> > to exacerbate the segmentary mode rather than ameliorate it. Not sure
> why.
> >
> > Huw tries to set up points of comparison that might actually enable
> > inter-tribal cooperation at least between closely allied groups of
> > CHATniks (psychology, social process, cultural factors in the work of
> > Vygotsky, Galperin, Leontiev, Davydov, Wertsch, Rogoff and Matusov,
> > Engstrom). That, I think, is a step in the direction of thematic unity,
> and
> > transdisciplinarity. It's really thematic unity that holds together the
> > natural sciences (that is, the idea that everything can be studied as a
> > form of matter, or as a chemical, or as a life form, etc.), and its
> > transdisciplinarity that makes lasting alliances and fixed concepts
> > possible.
> >
> > Something for Mike to ruminate about while he's off fly-fishing.
> > Mike's skill as a sheepdog always did owe something to his ability to get
> > into a sheepskin.
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Macquarie University
> >
> > On Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 8:44 AM, Goncu, Artin <goncu@uic.edu> wrote:
> >
> > >
> > >
> > > Dear Mike,
> > >
> > > Thank you very much for your contributions and your tireless leadership
> > > for the growth of this community.  As a member of this xmca list, as
> one
> > > of the former editors of MCA, and a contributor of LCHC Newsletter, I
> > have
> > > learned a lot from you and others in this community.  This list
> remains a
> > > significant part of my life that I follow in anchoring my work and
> > > checking on like-minded colleagues.  Most importantly though, all
> > > throughout my career I felt a special sense of belonging to this
> > community
> > > that has accepted me for who I am and what I am able to contribute.
> > Thank
> > > you!
> > >
> > > In gratitude and solidarity, ag
> > >
> > > Artin Goncu, Ph.D
> > > http://www.artingoncu.com/
> > > Professor Emeritus,
> > > University of Illinois at Chicago
> > > College of Education M/C 147
> > > 1040 W. Harrison St.
> > > Chicago, IL 60607
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On Mon, October 24, 2016 12:35 pm, mike cole wrote:
> > > > Hear Yee XMCA -O-Phytes.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Having removed myself from the active faculty of LCHC which is now in
> > the
> > > > capable hands of Angela Booker and Stephan Tanaka, the time has come
> > for
> > > > me
> > > > to step back from the doings of MCA and XMCA.  At MCA the new
> editorial
> > > > team of (in reverse alphabetical order, Jennifer Vadeboncoeur, Bonnie
> > > > Nardi, Victor Kaptelinin, and Natalia Gajdamashko) has taken over as
> > > > editors, and begun the process of carrying the enterprise into a new
> > > > generation. I will remain as a kind of "editor for special projects"
> > for
> > > > the journal and will continue to participate in XMCA.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > But with respect to XMCA it is past time for me to give up what David
> > > > Kellogg has called my "pastoral" role in seeking to coordinate and
> > > develop
> > > > discourse focused around provocative articles that appear in the
> > journal.
> > > > The original idea was to provide authors with rapid feedback and
> public
> > > > recognition instead of having to wait the 2-3 year cycle of replying
> > via
> > > > an
> > > > authorized journal.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > The reality, as you know, is somewhat different - a mélange of topics
> > > > that
> > > > intersect, loop back on themselves, and leak out into the
> semiosphere.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Luckily, Alfredo Jornet has offered to try his hand at the pastoral
> > role,
> > > > and will be recognized on the journal masthead as *MCA Forum
> Mediator*.
> > > > Alfredo brings to the task his early career in Spain, his later
> career
> > in
> > > > Norway, and his present career in Victoria. And all of this
> > international
> > > > experience before has started "his career." Brave soul. Alfredo and
> the
> > > > editors are considering a variety of options for the future of the
> > > > journal,
> > > > including importantly, its status as a new medium promoting rapid
> > > exchange
> > > > of the news between otherwise isolated scholars with complementary
> > > > interests.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > My participation in xlchc and then xmca has been central to my adult
> > > > education, and I appreciate what I have learned here more than words
> > can
> > > > suffice to explain. There are not so many academic ecologies in the
> > > world,
> > > > so enduring those that do spring up seems a worthwhile way to promote
> > its
> > > > reproduction.... keeping in mind Phillip White's reminder that the
> > future
> > > > of development is not predictable at the level of everyday
> experience.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > As I see it, there are two major failures in this effort over the
> > years.
> > > > The first is the enormous imbalance in the gender representation of
> the
> > > > participants. With a few periods where the exceptions ended up
> proving
> > > the
> > > > rule, female voices have been conspicuously absent. Academic "guy
> talk"
> > > > has
> > > > dominated. Understanding and, if possible, re-mediating that sad set
> of
> > > > circumstances seems like a major task for the future.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Second, MCA discourse does not accumulate. The discussions are more
> > like
> > > > chaining than the development of new concepts. As in the Sakharov -
> > > > Vygotsky blocks experiment, we talk about green triangles then blue
> > > > triangles then blue squares, each a legitimate line of inquiry, but
> > > > constantly changing criteria/topics as we go. Every once in a while
> we
> > > > ascend to the level of pseudo-concepts (these are the cases that
> evoke
> > > the
> > > > most controversy it seems to me). My fond hope is that Alfredo and
> our
> > > > sometimes engaged tech gurus will provide a more supportive
> environment
> > > > for
> > > > the creation of "truce concepts" -- agreement on a broad set of
> > > > principles/empirical embodiments and a research program that
> identifies
> > > > the
> > > > limits of the theory and the most fruitful lines of inquiry.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Thus spake
> > > >
> > > > mike
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Artin Goncu, Ph.D
> > > http://www.artingoncu.com/
> > > Professor Emeritus,
> > > University of Illinois at Chicago
> > > College of Education M/C 147
> > > 1040 W. Harrison St.
> > > Chicago, IL 60607
> > >
> > >
> > >
> >
>



-- 
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