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[Xmca-l] Re: My thoughts about ISCAR

Many thanks Alfredo. I thought my message had never gone through since I
didn't receive a copy to myself after sending. Best wishes, James

On 21 September 2017 at 07:59, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>

> Thanks James, these are insightful comments on ISCAR, and the kind of
> reflection I think I missed in the keynote that was mentioned in a couple
> of e-mails earlier, one making explicit not just technical findings, but
> also horizons.
> Alfredo
> ________________________________________
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> on behalf of James Ma <jamesma320@gmail.com>
> Sent: 21 September 2017 08:05
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l]  My thoughts about ISCAR
> The 5th ISCAR Congress was hailed as a great success in taking a 360-degree
> view of the landscape of cultural-historical activity research,
> accentuating the state of scholarship in practice.  The ontogenesis of
> Vygotsky alongside his cultural-historical school of thought was so well
> contextualised, illustrated and communicated that I felt I “knew” him.
> While travelling in Canada after the congregation, I was still preoccupied
> with thoughts about Vygotsky and how his theory had been approached or
> approximated and what might have been led to as a way of developing
> cultural-historical activity research.
> It might seem that an unquestioning assertion of Vygotskyan legacy would
> frame cultural-historical activity research not only as act of gaining
> proximity to Vygotsky but also as an attitude invested in *exhausting*,
> *exploiting* or even *worshiping* his work.  How can the ingenuity and
> inspiration of his insights nourish the landscape of cultural-historical
> activity research?  How might cultural-historical activity research be
> henceforth set to continue well into the future, thus informing many facets
> of our modern life?  These questions are of no easy matter, as Malcolm Reed
> points out in his prologue for the Congress:
> “Like any landscape we have cultivated, we need also to learn what and whom
> we have depleted and used to extinction, and count that cost and commit to
> reparation and rediscovery.”
> This reminds me of the opening remarks by Leslie Smith, Julie Dockrell and
> Peter Tomlinson (who edited “Piaget, Vygotsky and beyond” published after
> the Piaget-Vygotsky Centenary Conference held in Brighton, England, in
> April 1996):
> “There is sometimes a tendency to interpret the work of Piaget and Vygotsky
> in a polarised way, as if the work of one had nothing in common with that
> of the other.”
> Arguably, any theory has its limitations and shortcomings, and neither an
> unquestioning acceptance of new trends nor an unquestioning refusal of old
> traditions can succeed in the end in that it allows no room for evaluation.
> Vygotsky might well be seen as someone like C. S. Peirce whose philosophy
> was meant for those who want to explore and discover – as Peirce put it:
> “Those who want philosophy ladled out to them can go elsewhere. There are
> philosophical soup shops at every corner, thank God!”
> I’m a linguist by avocation.  I see Vygotsky within the linguistic turn in
> philosophy, which leads me to contemplate his ideas in the light of other
> thinkers.  When I first came across Vygotsky’s idea that the structure of
> speech is *not* the mirror image of the structure of thought, I wasn’t
> particularly impressed.  Vygotsky posited thought as undergoing
> reconstruction and reconfiguration before vocalisation, but this was
> already foreshadowed in Saussure’s work.  For Saussure, thought without
> language is a vague, uncharted nebula – there are no pre-existing ideas and
> nothing is distinct before the appearance of language.  Later I found
> Saussure and Vygotsky balancing each other with different focuses: Saussure
> on structure, Vygotsky on action, and Peirce on process and action.
> I’ve proposed a methodological approach that synergises different theories
> by placing otherwise disparate perspectives in dialogue.  Rather than
> simply contrasting different theoretical roots or orientations, a
> synergistic approach allows me to draw out the profound *sameness* of
> differences between theories.  I use “sameness” to refer to ontological and
> epistemological confluence or complementarity that provides a basis for
> mutual amelioration and consolidation.  This is exemplified in “The synergy
> of Peirce and Vygotsky as an analytical approach to the multimodality of
> semiotic mediation” *http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10749039.2014.913294
> <http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10749039.2014.913294>*).  In synergising
> different theoretical positions, a *tour d’horizon* for cultural-historical
> activity research may be brought forth.  I feel this is to some extent
> alluded to in Jennifer Vadeboncoeur’s epilogue for the Congress in terms of
> “impeccable research”.
> Just to add that the term “synergy” first came to my attention through the
> work of Eve Gregory on children learning English as an additional language
> in the UK, referring to the reciprocity of learning between sisters and
> brothers as “a synergy whereby siblings act as adjuvants, stimulating and
> fostering each other’s development” (see “Sisters and brothers as language
> and literacy teachers: synergy between siblings playing and working
> together”, *Journal of Early Childhood Literacy*, 2001).  The use of
> “synergy” in my work was also inspired by Anne Edwards’ writing on the
> resemblance of Vygotsky, Mead and American pragmatism in *Cambridge
> Companion to Vygotsky* (edited by Harry Daniels, Michael Cole and James
> Wertsch in 2007).
> On account of “semiotic methodology in the making” as highlighted by
> Alberto Rosa and Jaan Valsiner (see *The Cambridge Handbook of
> Sociocultural Psychology*, 2007), I feel Peircean pragmatism and semiotics
> can render impetus to Vygotsky-inspired cultural-historical activity
> research, bringing to the fore the importance of evaluating and
> re-evaluating theory in the light of changing social, economic and
> political conditions in modern society.
> James
> *_____________________________________*
> *James Ma*  *https://oxford.academia.edu/JamesMa
> <https://oxford.academia.edu/JamesMa>   *
> Semiotising the student perception of learning outcomes in British higher
> education  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2016.1189234
> Lev Vygotsky and his theory in a nutshell
> http://www.scrss.org.uk/publications.htm#2016
> The synergy of Peirce and Vygotsky as an analytical approach to the
> multimodality of semiotic mediation
> http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10749039.2014.913294  (This article is in the
> Journal’s “Most Read Articles” 1st place
> http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showMostReadArticles?
> journalCode=hmca20#.Va9Q7tFRF9A
> and in the “Class of 2015 Educational Research”
> http://explore.tandfonline.com/content/ed/class-of-2015/
> educational-research-history-of-education-education-policy-leadership-2015
> )
> On 15 September 2017 at 21:53, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> wrote:
> > Dear all,
> >
> >
> > Issue 3 of Mind, Culture and Activity has been out for a while now and it
> > is time to have one of the articles discussed here at xmca. We have
> > selected one that deals with a topic that interests me a lot and I am
> > confident will be interesting to many: the role of play and performance
> in
> > personal development and social change.
> >
> >
> > Carrie's paper starts with a beautiful vignette from a workshop bringing
> > youth from poor communities together with business people to jointly play
> > and perform. The next section ?abruptly brings us back to Vygotsky's
> > writings about play, ?and these then serve as the backdrop to a revisit
> to
> > the opening workshop. The analyses and the discussion invite us to
> > understand development "not as a set of stages that a people pass through
> > on their way to adulthood, but as the collective creation of stages
> > (environments) where people can perform who they are becoming."
> >
> >
> > Carrie has been kind enough to accept joining us in the discussion, and
> > she will introduce her article much better in a few days, while we all
> get
> > the time to read and bring up any questions or comments we might have. I
> am
> > sending this early, though, ?to give people a few days in advance to be
> > able to start looking at the article, which I hope will catch the
> interest
> > of many. Good read! And good weekend,
> >
> >
> > Alfredo
> >