Notes from last week.

July 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Dear AAB friends,

last week we met for our final meeting of the fourth session. Our time together this round was brief, but very stimulating. We examined the dynamics and intentions of the group as a whole, re-evaluating our values, our politics, and our boundaries. Our readings this round were meant to make more explicit a context that we believed to be already implicit in our analyses of the texts in previous sessions. We dealt with issues of race, sex, gender, structural violence, poverty, and colonialism.

For the last meeting, we read Jackie Wang’s “Against Innocence,” which examines the politics of “innocence” as a legitimising criteria for rallying against unjust violence. She cites incidents of violence against black bodies that caused widespread uproar (the most recent and mainstream example of which would be the Trayvon Martin case), whose victims were viewed as innocent (not carrying a weapon, not violent). She also discusses violence against women of colour, sex workers, poor women, et al. as often using the rhetoric of the “loose woman,” a victim-blaming process in which a woman’s chastity is her only evidence of violence done onto her, and any woman who falls outside of the definition of a “virtuous woman” is not a subject who can give consent and is not considered human (NHI). What is also discussed in the text is the popular, but internalised conception that subjects who are not proper (innocent, defenseless, non-violent) victims cannot be acceptable political actors.

We also examined the phenomenon of “safe space,” and how the safety of already privileged individuals tends to override the needs of others and, in fact, re-introduces structural violence and oppressive hierarchies into what is supposed to be a “radical” space.

Our work this session is to chew on these texts, evaluate our own behaviours and interactions. The meetings were filled with accounts of personal experiences that related to the theories discussed in our readings. We’d like everyone to hang onto those for the time being, and please stay tuned for a call for submissions for the next publication.

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