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RE: [xmca] Understanding is no method but rather a form of communication

I fear I've already posted too much, to the point that one person has requested an unsubscribe from the list. So, to answer Martin's closing question, I'll simply post something that came in today from a very different source, who said that Noam Chomsky wrote him and said that the reason he keeps it up is:

"If you do nothing, nothing will happen.
If you do something, chances are nothing will happen.
But if you do something you can at least look at yourself in the mirror."

Peter Smagorinsky 
Distinguished Research Professor of English Education 
Department of Language and Literacy Education 
The University of Georgia 
309 Aderhold Hall 
Athens, GA 30602 

Advisor, Journal of Language and Literacy Education                                                       
Follow JoLLE on twitter @Jolle_uga

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Martin Packer
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 1:10 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Understanding is no method but rather a form of communication


I am at fault for using the term 'emancipatory research' without defining it. It is research that aims to go beyond documenting, describing, some aspect of social reality and change it, overcoming or undoing injustice or exploitation of some kind. Like action research, it seeks to promote change in the status quo. Documenting is undoubtedly part of the process, but not the whole.

Larry wrote of research that treats people not as objects but as subjects. I have no doubt that Ellen (my mistake) Cushman's personal motivation is above reproach, and I don't know her subsequent work, but this article seems to me to be still within that category of research that treats its subjects as objects. It says nice things about the people she studied, but rhetorically it is part of a dialogue with Henry Giroux and Peter McLaren. I don't say this to criticize her; I've done my share of this type of research, and the institutional pressures to produce it are great. But both action research and emancipatory research, as I understand them, would do something different.

The question that I think it still unanswered is how best to approach such research. In a way Cushman's work makes the answer to that question even more mysterious. If it is the case, as she argues, that practitioners do not suffer from 'false consciousness,' that they already have 'critical consciousness,' but even so they are unable to change their circumstances, what on earth can an outsider do to help?


On Jul 19, 2012, at 11:42 AM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:

> To me, documenting is what research does, so perhaps it's the whole enterprise of emancipatory research that I don't understand. It seems that if the conclusions are in place before the research begins, then one's activism could produce a high degree of selectivity in what is studied or concluded. I'm sure that others will disagree with me on this point, but to me, that's quite a problem.

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