Behind the Paywall — Fugitive Practices: Learning in a Settler Colony

Citation

Leigh Patel (2019): Fugitive Practices: Learning in a Settler Colony, Educational Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00131946.2019.1605368.

Access Issues

Paywall: Taylor and Francis

None, really thanks to some information privilege.  The article is paywalled, obviously. It doesn’t show up in any of our indexes yet because it’s still an early article, not really published.  So I had to do the ILL request manually.  At this point, even the ILL request form no longer requires page numbers or anything else that would be hard with a preprint, so the main issue there was knowing that I needed to and could do it.

I submitted the request before logging onto Zoom for an online meeting, and had the article before the meeting was over.

TL;DR

This is a short article that is more a call to action than a traditional scholarly piece. Patel argues that educators and educational researchers should resist and reject dominant narratives about learning (narratives that are infused and sustained by settler colonialism) to see the practices that create real learning — learning that sustains in the face of violent erasure and dehumanization — which are there in what has been erased.

And here we go…

The stories that individuals tell about themselves, their people, their nation, other people, and success or failure all have material force in the shape and functions that institutions perform in society.” — page 1

Patel starts by giving a whirlwind summary of U.S. history, national-narrative style — one that starts with religious-freedom seeking European settlers and ends with Barack Obama’s election marking the end of racism.  In between we touch on westward expansion, American exceptionalism, bootstraps and rugged individuals, melting pots, freedom and this land of opportunity.

Slavery is in there, but mostly as an unfortunate (and past) period of time. Settler colonialism is “rarely mentioned” and flourishes in that silence. 

Patel pulls out a few key characteristics of this story: it is linear and progressive — concepts illustrated perfectly by American Progressa painting so perfect you probably thought of it when you heard “westward expansion” even if you didn’t know what it was called.  It is also a story that is built on, names and entrenches what Patel calls “hierarchies of humanness.” And, of course, in the American story we have to start with the fact that these hierarchies are historically and currently racial

“The perpetuation of the myth that race is biological categorically served the purposes of rendering Black, Indigenous and other people of color as belonging to groups that were less than human.” — page 3.

After this introduction, we go on to dig into some of these concepts as Patel establishes the theoretical lenses we need, starting with settler colonialism and education. 

ERASE and REPLACE

Drawing on Veracini, 2011 Patel describes these as the “core concept and organizing principle” of settler colonialism, and then she digs deeper into the ways that settler colonialism shapes our understanding of: how we know what we know, what counts as knowing, and the policy and practice built on this shared epistemology.  Key elements to this epistemology include:

  • Property has value;  knowledge is property.
  • Achievement is individual.
  • Learning is linear and progressive.

Think about how an epistemology that reflects values rooted in land — as an interconnected, living, life-giving, shared thing — would shift our understanding of learning, achievement and knowledge.

So that brings us to the second lens, learning as fugitive. 

Patel uses descriptions of the many ways that enslaved peoples shared teaching and learning in secret, when being literate was illegal for them. And while some of this fugitivity is about those concrete practices, some of it is about shared epistemology –how people in this context knew what they knew — starting from a recognition that the truth is not always what is taught, that those national histories that that say some are lesser than and erase others, are not unassailable truth even as they are presented as such.

This fugitivity, this resistance, is not just an individual thing. Dominant cultures are dominant, but they are not the only. There are counternarratives and countercultures that exist at the same time, and these are seen in individuals and communities and in activism and social movements, movements that are frequently sparked and carried forward by young people.

Which brings us to the call to action

Educational researchers (and educators) should shift away from questions of achievement, grounded in the individualist, property-focused progressivism of settler colonialism, towards questions that focus on what learning really is.  And she further argues that the moment we are living in makes this shift essential — “an imperative moment.” She doesn’t deny that this kind of shift could never be neutral or safe and she argues that the risks she’s talking about aren’t romantic, but necessary.

Educational studies scholars can bring in the history, the contextual accuracy of settler state desires, and raise up the authentic and purposeful learning that has been passed from generation to generation. — page 8

Key references: 

Harney, S. & Moten, F. 2013. The undercommons: Fugitive planning and black study.

Mignolo, W.D. 2012. Local histories/ global designs: Coloniality, subaltern knowledges, and border thinkingPrinceton University Press. 

Sleeter, C.E. 2017. Critical race theory and the whiteness of teacher education. Urban Education, 52(2), 155-169

  • This is paywalled (though it might be available out there perhaps on one of those for-profit scholarly social article places) BUT the author has done an open summary here on her blog.

Veracini, L. 2011. Introducing: Settler colonial studies. Settler Colonial Studies, 1(1), 1-12.  (PDF at the Swinburne University of Technology repository)

Wynter, S. 2003. Unsettling the coloniality of being/power/truth/freedom: Toward the human, after man, its overrepresentation — An argument. CR: The New Centennial Review, 3(3), 257-337. 

  • This is paywalled but it might be out there if you did some searching, I mean maybe.  BUT there is an extensive discussion of this article out there on the Always Already critical theory podcast.  I haven’t listened to it, but hey, that’s pretty cool.

Begin as you mean to go on

admission-2974645_640.jpg

CC0 by igorovsyannykov on Pixabay

Every year, Shaun and I have a vague goal to see 52 movies, in the theater, before year’s end.  Every year, we start that process on New Year’s Day.  We honestly never get there, but this year we realized as we hit December, that we had a chance.  I think we were at about 45 movies on December 1.

We decided then that we wouldn’t see any movies JUST to get to 52. Like, they had to be a movie that we would at the very least go see if we were super in the mood for a movie and it was the only thing playing.  Because let’s face it, there are a lot of movies that don’t clear that bar.

In the end, we were stymied by Corvallis.  We are super lucky to have a three-screen indie theater in our tiny town.  Between that and the big corporate chains, a lot of movies come here. But a lot of them don’t come here right away.  There are a number of movies from this release year that we haven’t had a chance to see yet, and we ended up at 49.  We could have made it an even 50 had we seen our NYD movie on NYE*, but we decided instead to begin as we mean to go on.

Why movies?  There are a lot of reasons, big and small, but one of the most interesting to me is — because we work in academia. This is a job that never really goes away.  There are always things to read, talk about, grade, work out, letters to write, applications to complete and there’s no real workday to keep those things contained.  This is especially true for Shaun, but it’s pretty true for me too.  Add to that the fact that I am entirely incapable of sitting and watching anything at home without at least something to keep my hands busy, and movies in the theater become an opportunity to focus, together, on one thing, for two hours.  Even when the movie isn’t great that alone is worth the price of admission.

(We don’t get snacks.  That would probably bankrupt us.)

So, here’s the 2018 list:

Molly’s Game
The Post
Phantom Thread
Call Me By Your Name
Black Panther
I, Tonya
Game Night
A Fantastic Woman
The Party
The Young Karl Marx
Oh Lucy!
The Death of Stalin
Chappaquiddick
Leaning into the Wind
Avengers: Infinity War
Tully
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
Disobedience
RBG
Ocean’s 8
The Rider
Incredibles 2
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Ant Man and the Wasp
Hearts Beat Loud
Leave No Trace
Sorry to Bother You
Mission Impossible: Fallout
BlacKkKlansman
Crazy Rich Asians
Blindspotting
Puzzle
The Bookshop
Juliet, Naked
The Wife
A Simple Favor
A Star is Born
First Man
Colette
The Old Man and the Gun
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Widows
Instant Family
Bohemian Rhapsody
Maria, by Callas
Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse
Mary, Queen of Scots
The Favourite
Shoplifters

We haven’t done our annual sit in the pub and create top five lists project yet, though we have started the initial thinking.  Films in bold are my current top contenders, but I reserve the right to shift things after further reflection.  And top five in our world doesn’t mean “best” – it’s a pretty idiosyncratic and individual set of criteria. In any event, one of these titles is still pretty squishy.

Overall, this was a really good year for movies.  There are usually more than enough contenders for a bottom five list and while that would be possible this year — it’s a relative thing after all — there is a good chance that some movies that are just fine would be on it.

I don’t do an honorable mention list but I do want to point out a couple more films:

  • Most Intense YouTube Marathon happened after seeing Maria, by Callas.
  • Leaning into the Wind is the leading contender for Imagery that Invaded my Dreams and Stuck With Me After I Woke Up.
  • And Instant Family wins for Movie Starring Mark Wahlberg that Most Directly Represents My Life.
Instant Family is a movie about adoption, specifically foster-to-adopt adoption, and it is one that I’m happy to recommend.  I wrote in this space a while ago about how these stories are largely absent, and that we need more of them.  I had some trepidation before seeing this, but went on the recommendation of others who have also shared this experiences, and they were right.  It’s not the whole truth or only story about adoption, and we still need more stories; if we get them, I hope they are done with the context and grounding and honesty of this one.

Continue reading

Almost here

This week is kind of like the week before Christmas for me. But a Christmas where I am super excited and at the same time super nervous because I really like the presents I made for everyone and I hope they like them too.

(That might be a little too much truth about how I feel around gift-giving holidays. And about how much of myself, and of others, is present in these pages.)

So for those of you who like to shake the box or peek inside the bags — here’s a teaser.

Why Autoethnography? 

That’s the introduction to the book that I’ve been working on (with lots of other amazing people) for almost three years now. It’s my attempt to capture what I think about the method and about our need for it (and methods like it) in LIS.

The book itself will be available sometime near the end of next week.  It’s kind of a thing for something that’s been three years in the making to become real.  I’m kind of having a believe it when I see it reaction.  But there are some hints that it is going to be real — see, isn’t it pretty?

Autoethnography-Cover.jpg

 

Stay tuned – more to follow.

 

the true reality

I don’t know if the world needs me to say this, but I think I do.  Because this has been bothering me all day.  Yesterday, I saw this on Facebook.

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Do you see it?  Do you see the problem?

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I’m not going to link to the article itself, because my problem is not with the article or its author. In my quick read it felt like an authentic and honest story, and I think it being in the world will probably mean a lot to many, and this person telling her story is not what I’ve been thinking about all day. But this is a topic that cuts deep for many people and others might have real and meaningful problems with the article. On another day, I likely will too. But on this day, I  want to keep the focus somewhere else.

No, my problem is with HuffPo and the framing. This is not the true reality behind adopting a child. It may be true, it may capture and share and communicate truths shared by many, but it is not the true reality. It is one of many true realities — one of many stories.

It’s not my reality. It’s not my story.

But that’s fine. That’s not the point. What is the point? The point is that we don’t need the true reality. We need lots of realities. Lots of stories. More stories.

You’re adopting?  What country is she from?*

Full disclosure – this makes me mad on a personal level. I think my anger goes beyond that, but this caught my eye and stuck in my brain because it’s personal to me.  I am an adoptive parent, and when I met my daughter she was 11 years old and in foster care. Since that day, I’ve become increasingly aware that a lot of people have personal experiences with this kind of adoption — and hardly any of them ever tell those stories in public.

A big part of that (I think) is that these stories are not just ours. My story also belongs to my daughter, to the people in her other families, and to all of the people who connected with her and loved her and invested themselves in her future. And while all of those people have a right to their stories, when it comes to my daughter and hers, it’s different. The stakes are high. Children in foster care quickly learn that their stories are only partly their own, that they don’t get to decide when those stories are told and when they’re not. They don’t get to protect their stories, to define them or choose which pieces to share the same way that they would if they were not in the system. In many cases, their stories are tied to getting protections and resources and safety, making the choices even less their own.

So making sure our daughter knows that her experiences are not mine to share is paramount. If this weren’t something we’ve talked about again and again, and if I needed to share any part of her story that is not already part of her public identity to say this — I wouldn’t be saying it now. Even if she told me I could. And I think many people in my situation feel the same way.**

Which is necessary and important, but means that these adoption stories are rarely told. And they’re rarely told while other stories — about infant adoption, private adoption, open adoption, family adoption and international adoption — are.

It’s not like there is no narrative about my experience out there. We all know the stereotypes about older child or foster care adoption. When we shared that we were planning to take this path, the same fears came up over and over and over and over. Some were grounded in some kind of experience (my cousin’s first husband had an adopted daughter and I think it was really hard).  Others were worse, and grounded in nothing specific. It got to the point where we didn’t share very widely because it was just too difficult to respond to negative and intrusive assumptions from acquaintances or friends of friends.

If there were more stories, sharing more experiences and more truths, this would start to change. I do believe that. This — the importance of stories and reflections on experience — is also something I think about a lot (and have especially been thinking about a lot lately). These aren’t new or unique thoughts. And they’ve been brought to the forefront and expressed better than I ever could — #weneeddiversebooks and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to name just a few.

We tend to on one level focus on the importance of narrative and simultaneously undercut it on another. On the first level, we accept that we use story to organize and make sense of the world. We get that we use story to communicate and to collaborate.  We talk about the importance of stories in developing empathy and connections with the world. I mean, we even talk about the importance of story in instrumental ways — like in assessment and “sharing our value.”

But at the same time, on that other level, we don’t trust that our stories have value for what they are. We hold up generalizability as the gold standard of inquiry. News outlets entice clicks with exposés that deliver “the real story.” We focus our highest praise on fiction that captures universal truth. And that is what bothers me so much about seeing this on my Facebook all day.

Providing a platform for people to share their experiences honestly and reflectively is a good thing. But it’s not a good thing because it’s a way to get a scoop. Qualitative research isn’t valuable because it’s sampled and significant and generalizable, and HuffPo didn’t find the answer to this question so no one else has to ask it.  We don’t need to find the universal experience, the real story, the true reality. What we need is more.

More stories.

 


*My daughter is from the United States. Just like most adopted children in the U.S. are. Public agency and international adoptions account for about half of the adoptions in the U.S. every year. The other half includes lots of things — step-parent adoption, adoption by relatives, private agency adoption, etc. — and most of those also involve children from here. Only about 15% of children in the U.S. are adopted from other countries, and this number has been dropping. Still, this is almost everyone’s assumption when they hear we adopted. This is likely a result of many factors, including our age, education and income bracket, but I think it also illustrates how skewed the public conversation about adoption is. 

**I’m not sure the author of the essay does, which is another reason I didn’t link to it. She has a blog where she talks about these issues too, and I don’t read that so I really don’t know what her attitude or policies are about privacy. That’s what I mean by on another day, I might be focused on something else. Plus, you’re all librarians so if you who want to find it you will. 

 

Something clever about pictures, thousands of words and 140 characters

So it is probably not shocking that sometimes I can’t express myself in one tweet.

(It is probably more shocking that I ever can)

I was talking about the ACRL-OR/WA Fall Conference, which was hosted this year by ACRL-OR at the Menucha Retreat in the Columbia Gorge, and about which I went on in this post.

(View from Menucha)

Jim Holmes from Reed College did an amazing job running technology at the conference – and captured all of the amazing women noted above while he was doing so.  The results are available now.  If you weren’t able to join us (or even if you were) —

Barbara Fister gave an inspiring and thoughtful opening keynote.  Ignore the fangirl  giving the introduction.

Rachel Bridgewater put together a two hour program called Fair Use as Advocacy Laboratory, integrating a remote talk from Brandon Butler at ARL (who was also fantastic)

And Char Booth wrapped up the conference with a closing keynote that built on and wrapped around the themes of the previous two programs.  It was like magic.

Thanks again to everyone who put so much work into this conference, which means every single member of the ACRL-OR Board.  Interested in being a part of the next one?  ACRL-OR elections will be happening in the next few months.  Watch the ACRL-OR blog for the announcement.

Signs of Spring

So the second day of spring found us in the middle of Finals Week (courtesy of the quarter system that I am still not used to after 8 years), in a world that looked like THIS –

snow fort in a front yard of a house in Corvallis

Our world here doesn’t usually look like this even when it is winter.  Seriously, this is the first real snow fort I can remember seeing in the Willamette Valley and I have lived in western Oregon since I was seven.

(Finals week = no snow day, and I can’t imagine what kind of logistical nightmares people were having to deal with anyway)

So this is a long way of introducing the fact that we’re in the middle of Spring Break now, so EBSCO going dark yesterday was probably going to be as low-impact as it possibly could around here.  Which doesn’t change the fact that Shaun was in his office for less than a half hour before I saw this tweet –

– which turned out to be about EBSCO.

Which is a long way of introducing this awesome telling of the EBSCO tale, which is also a really awesome example of how to use Storify:

EBSCO:  The Reckoning

While using my iPad for article-reading, a blog post about Storify appeared

It has been ages since I talked about a new tool/service like this but Shaun came home talking about Storify the other day and it sounded good so I got myself an invite.

Basically, it lets you pull content from the dynamic web, including all of the social social media suspects plus search results, into a timeline-like interface. You add text (or not) and you have a story.

Reading the “one year out” iPad posts that have been popping up, I have been thinking about how I use mine — especially how I use it differently than I expected.  One thing I didn’t expect was the extent to which I have used it to replace some of the paper in my life.  Not all of it, but some of it.   And one of the most interesting pieces of that story, to me, has been the extent to which some of the papers being replaced are the reams and reams of paper worth of article printouts I used to create.

Those printouts were totally outside my workflow in so many ways – but I had to be able to:

  • Take them places (even my laptop is so much less mobile than a folder of paper and a pen).
  • Read them (which I could technically do, but not really do on my phone).
  • Take notes on them (typing doesn’t count for me.  I wish it did.  But it doesn’t).

With the iPad, some of that started to change.  Here’s a story about how.

 

Screenshot of the top few lines of a story created using the Storify tool

 

There are definitely some glitches – the integration with Flickr wasn’t working at all for me, for example.  But it was quick and intuitive and I like the output a lot.  I have some more interesting ideas for using it than this one.