Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fiction about indigenous / Native Americans

I have really enjoyed books by Caucasian authors Stan Jones about the Iñupiat, by Aimee and David Thurlo about the Navajo, by Tony and Anne Hillerman about the Navajo, William Kent Krueger about the Ojibwe of Minnesota. When is it appropriation, when not?

Interesting posts:
Fine Print: 7 American Indian Women Novelists You Have to Read by Tanya H. Lee
1/15/14, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/01/15/fine-print-7-american-indian-women-novelists-worth-reading-153023
Debbie Reese. American Indians in Children's Literature http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/

Carole laFavor about the Ojibwe. Linda Hogan. Susan Deer Cloud. Nicholas Black Elk.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Adrienne Keene

Yesterday I attended the Professionals of Color Lecture Series Presents: Dr. Adrienne Keene: Conversation on Cultural Appropriation & Pop Culture.

From the events blurb: "Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) is a Native scholar, writer, blogger and activist. She is passionate about reframing how the world sees contemporary Native cultures. She is the creator and author of "Native Appropriations," a blog discussing cultural appropriation and stereotypes of Native peoples in fashion and other forms of pop culture. Her 3 foci were: increasing awareness of Native Americans in today’s society and how the history of marginalization and discrimination are still challenges in today’s society, insights into how contemporary Native Americans are working towards social change, and how Native Americans are negatively portrayed in media, sporting events and pop culture and the direct connection to continued oppression, discrimination and marginalization of their communities."

She has spent the last 5 years learning how to talk about these complex ideas in public, often through her blog. Stereotyping shrinks the diversity of Indian country to a few images and erases contemporary existence: there are 567 federally-recognized tribes and many more not recognized. Native identity is complex and racialized, involving political citizenship and culture. Cultural appropriation is taking from a culture no one's own instead of participating in an equal exchange of sharing. There are economic and moral issues: the designs are intellectual property, copyrighted and trademarked. E.g., the Navajo Nation hold the trademark for "Navajo." Urban Outfitters violated it in 2011, making a lot of money from products while the Navajo Nation did not. Morally, appropriation interferes with self-identity, self-definition, violates sacred aspects of a culture, and interferes with cultural sovereignty and survival. (This is so similar to issues of gender identity and sexual orientation!) Stereotypical images continue the dehumanization and colonization processes (emphasizing white supremacy). Native appearance, cultures, and languages were made illegal in the attempt to wipe out or assimilate them.

Fashion is an accessory that can be put on and taken off, different from identity. Yet there aren't hard lines between appropriation and exchange. Consider the 3 S's: source, significance, similarity. In 2012, the Paul Frank Fashion Night Out was marketed as
"Dream Catchin’ Pow wow." After Adrienne blogged about it, the President wrote to and phoned her to discuss ways to address the situation. The company pulled all "Native" designs from their digital art, pulled all products using that art, presented at the industry conference, and collaborated with Native artists to produce new designs and products (an e.g. of ("interest convergence"). When given the opportunity, many people want to do the right thing, but there are still challenges.

As an academic, Adrienne wondered how to process and deal with hate mail. She made a spreadsheet of tweets and analyzed the data, producing a scholarly article to be presented at a conference, thus reclaiming the hate mail language.

How can we incorporate Native designs respectfully? Buy from Native designers, know the background of the work, where/whom it's from. Don't buy or wear items which have sacred or religious significance. Let Native Americans represent themselves by buying directly from them or shops such as Beyond Buckskin Boutique.

Gender Justice, Transgender Day of Remembrance

Cael Keegan spoke on "What Now? Gender Justice and the LGBTQ Movement After Marriage."

In 2014 there were 12 transgender people murdered. In 2015, there have been 22 transgender people murdered so far. Despite the news media focus on transgender issues, awareness is not at the "tipping point." Where is the coverage of the increasing transgender "eradication!" Why is it missing?

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance that would have protected classes of people from discrimination based on 15 characteristics including gender identity and sexual orientation failed to gain enough votes because of an anti-trans ad campaign which focused on sex offenders in bathrooms. Cael named this an part of a continuity of anti-trans rhetoric and cited Michael Warner's book The Trouble with Normal and Susan Stryker's work, in which she makes the point that the abililty for transpeople to marry doesn't bring security: it is not equal to transgender rights and privileges because the marriages can be challenged and legally dissolved against the will of the married couple.

Cael pointed to neoliberalism and the current silence about the AIDS crisis, a silence which is "pointed and performative," having the power of preventing action. Lisa Duggan's book The Twilight of Equality? neoliberalism, cultural politics, and the attack on democracy states that since Reagan, the reduction of public health, welfare, etc., comes from the idea that the only "public good" is wealth and that those who fail have failed to manage their lives as if they were investment portfolios.

Prior to this time, there were 2 positives: Roe v Wade made abortion legal in 1973, and homosexuality was removed from the DSM. However, in 1976 the death penalty was reinstated, transgender was pathologized by being added to the DSM as "gender dysphoria" in 1980 and in 1981 was excluded from Medicare coverage. In 1985, gay men could no longer be blood donors. From 1986-96, sodomy laws were upheld, people with HIV+ status couldn't emigrate, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" became military policy, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed; however these 4 were overturned from 2003-2015. In 1994, ENDA failed to be passed, and in 2007 GENDA, a trans-inclusive version of ENDA, failed. In 2008, there were 81,542 deaths from AIDS: where is our memorial, our permanent structure for public mourning and recovery? Why has no one been held accountable for this medical neglect?

The drive for marriage equality divided transgender people and people of color from lesbians and gays; it seems to have come as a direct response to AIDS, institutionalizing and removing radicalism. The erasure of AIDS became the erasure of brilliant and creative activists. Publicizing trans-positive organizations such as Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project, the Critical Media Project, and Fierce, helps to reverse silence and denial. Cael stated that we need larger societal reforms: prison reform, decriminalization of drugs, removing the death penalty, de-capitalization of the state, and de-gendering institutions which help people.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gamification, searching, and Writing 150

Some of my colleagues designed a card game for students to learn how to construct a search query out of a research questions/statements with randomly-drawn keywords, Boolean connectors AND/OR, and wildcards. I modified it a bit in the section of Writing 150 I worked with, so that students collaborated in groups but groups competed with each other for points (which I forgot to keep track of, but I also asked for the rest of the class to both judge and help the group at the front making their query, so the points became irrevelant). The class session felt chaotic to me, as there was a lot of confusion and many questions. At the end of the class session, I had the groups talk me through demonstrating on the computer what those search queries would look like in the "Summon" / "Find articles, books, & more" box, Google, and advanced search in a database or catalog.

I went to the computer lab for this section a week later to find that both the instructor and the students felt that the game had been very effective. More than 3/4 of the students had found their 5 scholarly sources after that game session. Only a few students with very complex topics had difficulty, and I was happy to work with them individually.

Gender Fluidity: sex, gender, & orientation

This morning I did my 2nd talk plus Q&A for 2 sections of Social Work 300 taught by Mirta Paola León, who is also the photographer of the exhibit Paya Lliklla, Las Tejedoras de Chari, Peru: Reweaving Tradition in the 21st Century. I was really nervous before the 1st one - preparation anxiety led me to do some research to answer student questions before the classes, combined with "coming out" anxiety. Both sections went well - I used the students' questions to prep, emphasized the suspension of judgment, lifelong learning, love. At the beginning of the 2nd section, the prof showed a 7-minute video from the MSU LGBT Resource Center on Sexuality and Gender 101. Really informative. (I thought, "but don't we have one from GVSU like that?" I found the GVSU LGBT RC YouTube channel, but most of the relevant videos are long, over an hour.)

I drew definitions from Gender Spectrum and Catalyst. I drew from my own life experiences, and referred to friends who have undergone sex reassignment. The prof talked about labelling transgender as "gender dysphoria" in the DSM V and we both talked about health needs, issues with choosing an intersex baby's sex/gender, lack of insurance coverage. I used some photos to give some visual understanding of fluidity and transition, historical norms and current cultural fashions. I answered questions, acknowledged the perspectives shared by students, and was, although nervous, unashamedly myself. Sex-assigned-from-birth as female and preferring pronouns she, her, hers, although identifying as androgynous; lesbian; married to another woman - never having believed that this would happen in my lifetime. Sometimes wearing men's shirts, sometimes women's - the differing quality of cloth and colors along with button placement and the stupidity of women's pants being side-zippered on the left. The difficulty of coming out, the changes in GVSU culture, challenging what "conservative Christian" means. The importance of introducing oneself with preferred name and pronouns as an opening to provide safe space for sharing self-identification instead of making assumptions or labelling. And today, about the Michigan Secretary of State's decision on changing gender on driver's licenses as backward, not inclusive. Derogatory vs in-group language and labels. Drawing inward physically and emotionally in order to hide from others, paralyzing anxiety, rage, suicidal depression about being different. And the stupidity of labelled bathrooms - I asked if any of them had grown up in a house or apartment or whatever with labelled, separate bathrooms. None had. So why do we have them in institutions? And as a British friend observed, why hadn't U.S. engineers designed bathroom stalls which truly allowed privacy instead of big gaps between frame and door, between floor and bottom of the door? Wow.

Afterward, I attended a talk by Adrienne Keene about stereotyping, colonizing/assimilating, and appropriating Native American culture - so many of the issues are so very similar to gender issues.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Teaching secondary research

Encourage students to write before they start looking for their 10 sources: what they know about the topic/problem/question, why it interests them, why it’s important, etc. It only needs to be a paragraph or so.

As they come across sources, they should stop with ones that resonate with them or provoke a strong reaction, and make a note of why (along with the citation info). Does the information support what they thought – how, why? Does it challenge it – how, why?

Secondary research/scholarship is a conversation that starts with where the scholar/researcher is, describes others’ viewpoints and information, and addresses/responds to those sources!

Primary research incorporates secondary as a literature review.
(Research/scholarship might advocate for one point of view or solution over others, propose a new solution, create something new, point out areas that need to be researched, but those come later in the process.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Photography communication intro

Ask students: "Do you remember what communication is?" Listen to replies.

"Sender--message--receiver/s. I'm here to help you craft your message so that your receiver-readers understand. As the sender, you are telling your own story--in words and images. And to put your story into context, you include other "messages" in your work. So, in thta way, you're also a receiver--looking for the right messages to flesh out your own. That's what research and scholarship are--creating your story/message, including the "back story" how other people's stories support yours, and getting/putting your story out there for other people to learn from or experience. Your message can be your understanding of something or someone too. However, you don't just recite facts. You include your perspective on them and how they inform your life.

"Learning technical processes means practicing your technique until it reflects your message, and your message is clear. Writing and making images are both technical processes which have to be practiced."