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[Xmca-l] Re: Tensions in the concept testimonio

I read through the series of posts related to these and read Peter's
synopsis/chapter on hermeneutics. I can now hear the voice of Gadamer in
Levinas, who seems to shift from interpretation and knowing to ethics (a
kind of ethical hermeneutics as Enrique Dussel has termed).

"Understanding as productive process"; "meaning is always an experience,
an event, a moment of applicationŠ" While reference is made to "text" I
also see how "text" is viewed broadly, such that hermeneutics as a
practice involves intentional "reading" and "interpretation" of events,
social phenomena, etc.

What I see in testimonio is a particular kind of intentional "voicing," an
orientation toward community (a "collective" voice) that is distinct from
an intentional "interpretation."  While hermeneutics, as I read Peter's
synthesis, orients to the past (via texts, and self always present),
testimonio orients to "others".  Ethics as relations to others are primary
or assume a kind of primacy over epistemology and knowing.  I believe
Enrique Dussel has carved out important ground on this point.

My sense in reading testimonios (and attempts at re-searching and
understanding how they are generated and function within grassroots
organizations) is that they DO speak against-to oppression. Testimonios
are not transparent but can be rather messy, yet they are (or are
attempts) at collective voicing.  Unlike autobiographies that may be
intentionally individual.  [Note: some analytic and parsing out is needed
in coming to define testimonio, but I recognize that autobiographies and
testimonios can blur].

Below is an excerpt from my own research, an auto-ethnography of community
organizing, that may be useful in teasing out a central problem/tension,
that between individual and collective voicing.

[Excerpt BeginsŠ]

"To note, critical personal narratives, identified by Swadener and Mutua
(2004) as a predominant genre in decolonizing writing, challenge
methodologies found in traditional social science approaches, such as
case-study, ethnography, and narrative research. Indigenists resist the
positivist and postpositivist methodologies of Western science because
these formations are too frequently used to validate colonizing knowledge
about indigenous
peoples.  Indigenists deploy, instead, interpretive strategies and skills
fitted to the needs, language, and traditions of their respective
indigenous community. These strategies emphasize personal performance
narratives and testimonios."  (Denzin & Lincoln, 2008, p. 10)

In critical personal narratives, concerns with objectivity and a
one-to-one retelling of events are secondary to the desire to speak
against injustice.   Like testimonios, critical personal narratives
³involve an urgency to communicate, a problem of repression, poverty,
subalternity, imprisonment, struggle for survival, and so on, implicated
in the act of narration itself,² (Beverley, 2004, p. 26).  Thus, this
approach entails reconstituting the narrator/storyteller as a spatially
marked and historically inscribed subject that is conditioned and
conditions both the interpretation of story and the writing of story.

            Stretching narrative beyond its uses in Western/Modern science
requires that we reinvent narrative as a practice beyond spaces of
empirical scientific investigation.  Speaking from my particular
socio-political location, political, ethical, and spiritual concerns are
just as important as scientific concerns.  The debates on testimonio not
withstanding, I will argue that critical personal narrative as method and
strategy should be viewed as collective rather than individual expression.
Narration is, as John Beverley remarks on testimonio, an ³affirmation of
the individual self in a collective mode,² (Beverley, 2004, p. 29).

            Finally, a caution that many indigenous and critical scholars
have with post/positivist frameworks is that these in the name of
scientific rigor often serve to silence the individual and collective
voices of the subaltern. Consequently, the subaltern is only allowed to
speak in the terms and
conditions drawn out by the discourses and frameworks of the practice of
legitimized science.  What are sought here are methods and methodologies,
always messy, that enable storytelling and analysis from the margins.  I
explicitly position myself as an indigenous, Chicano scholar and community
organizer.  Thus, my review of North participatory action-research
projects is written from the standpoint of the South, invoking the voices
of the people on the ground, the researched, and academics located at the
margins working with/in the colonial-capitalist State.



On 1/4/15 1:46 PM, "Larry Purss" <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

>Miguel wrote in the other thread:
>One of the (many)  central problems raised by testimonio, which I also
>in standpoint  theory (Harding), is the question/tension/exploration of
>individual AND
>collective voicing.
>I was hoping Miguel and others could elaborate on this central *problem*
>[and central question]
>Peter's question if testimonio and third spaces also require resistance
>therefore he chose to use the concept *hybrid*
>I am hoping to refocus [re-search] the transformative EFFECT of *third
>spaces* and link it back to the notion of "truth" as being relevant [not
>Using ideas such as "living in truth" or "hearing each other into voice"
>can develop within third spaces but if there is no resistance must we
>to a notion such as hybrid to understand Miguel's question and problem the
>tensions within "individual AND collective *voices*
>I am not sure about starting another thread, but chose to do so to focus
>back to Miguel's original answer "inviting" receptively further questions.

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