[xmca] Some comments from Anna Stetsenko

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (ana@zmajcenter.org)
Date: Tue Nov 01 2005 - 14:06:09 PST

Anna Stetsenko still cannot post directly to the XMCA listserve, so I ma
forwarding her comments to the group.
Ana M-S

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: could you please post for me on xmca?
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 16:25:20 -0500
From: Stetsenko, Anna <AStetsenko@gc.cuny.edu>
To: Ana Marjanovic-Shane <ana@zmajcenter.org>
References: <4367B514.1080404@zmajcenter.org>

I am very glad that my paper has lead to some interesting discussions and will offer my comments on

it in the next few days (I am not directly subscribed on xmca at the moment but have participated on

and off since the early 1990s).

For now, just a brief note with a suggestion to Andy. Why not read my
paper again, because I do not see you referring to my arguments in any
relevant way. Instead, you had caricatured my arguments and then went on
to trample this caricature that you yourself invented (not an unknown
tactic but it needs to be pointed out). In fact, all concrete comments
and objections that you made have nothing to do with my paper.
Specifically, you started by suggesting that I infer some kind of a
sixth sense and then went on to present my view as stating that ONLY in
AT (and Russia) the subject had been lost. In later posts, still
apparently referring to my paper, you went on to say that it is wrong to
take individuals as the starting point, to imply 'the individual on one
side, and society on the other', wrong to imply subjectivity as a mental
theater and 'start with Robinson Crusoes who then meet their Fridays'
and so on. None of these indeed faulty ideas has anything to do with my
arguments. What you suggest as an alternative is to take activity system
as the starting point, without noticing that this is exactly what my
paper suggests in an unequivocal way, again and again, throughout the paper.


That there are profound problems with subjectivity in poststructuralist
approaches is NOT denied in my paper, as Andy erroneously implied. On
the contrary, this is referred to in footnote: "However, this does not
mean that the views of these scholars [Vygotsky, Leotiev] somehow lose
in comparison to alternative approaches that putatively attribute more
agency to individuals, because these latter approaches... only address
ephemeral agency as rooted in individualist and essentialist premises."
I can refer to my other papers with extended discussion on the pitfalls
of such views (MCA, 1997, with Arievitch), Theory and Psychology (2004),
Critical Psychology (2004).


I do not know what makes Andy so impenetrable to my arguments and do not
want to speculate on this now. But it is deeply puzzling that instead of
asking for clarification of my position, looking up my other works or
something like this (especially as Andy himself stated his 'outsider
status' in AT), he chose to caricature my work in such a bizarre way.


On a lighter note, I find the following quote very amuzing (can already
see it partly applicable to Andy's postings). Note especially the last

"Theories have four stages of acceptance:
     i) this is worthless nonsense;
     ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view.
     iii) this is true but quite unimportant.
     iv) I always said so."
                  - J.B.S. Haldane, 1963


Will be back soon,

Anna Stetsenko


PS. Just one hypothesis - I guess me being an 'unknown entity' is part
of Andy's perception. To briefly introduce myself (perhaps helpful for
others on xmca too), let me mention that my scholarship spans some 30
years of first studying and then working and publishing in Activity
Theory, including in what was its hotbed at Moscow University from 1975
till early 1990s, and then internationally. I studied with ANLeontiev
and other followers of Vygotsky, worked with AALeontiev and Davydov
(e.g., publishing in several books that he edited). Perhaps adding this
context would invite Andy to read more carefully my paper. Which would
then perhaps form a basis for a meaningful discussion.



Anna Stetsenko

Professor and Program Head

PhD Program in Developmental Psychology

The Graduate Center, The City University of New York

365 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10016


Ana Marjanovic-Shane

151 W. Tulpehocken St.

Philadelphia, PA 19144

Home office: (215) 843-2909

Mobile: (267) 334-2905

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