Sanctioned Ignorance: Deconstructing Historiography

InOtherWorlds“In Selected Subaltern Studies (1985) Spivak writes ‘it is correctly suggested that the sophisticated vocabulary of much contemporary historiography successfully shields this cognitive failure and that this success-in-failure, this sanctioned ignorance, is inseparable from colonial domination.’ Ignorance is therefore rationalised, and by such means sanctioned. Spivak’s charge of sanctioned ignorance is most often directed at the Western study of the ‘third-world,’ ‘oriental’ or ‘subaltern,’ a gaze filtered through a selective lens.”

“The charge of ‘sanctioned ignorance’ is not merely the suggestion of an omission, an angle on analysis as yet unexplored by chance. It gives agency to the omitter. Indeed, to the collective academy. It is a purposeful silencing through the dismissing of a particular context as being irrelevant. This is not necessarily an issue of individual malice but an institutionalized way of thinking about the world which operates to foreclose particular types of analysis or considerations from entering into the debate.”

SOURCE: Mayblin, Lucy. “Sanctioned Ignorance.” Global Social Theory.

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How Facebook, Fake News & Friends Are Warping Your Memory

“Memory is notoriously fallible, but some experts worry that a new phenomenon is emerging. ‘Memories are shared among groups in novel ways through sites such as Facebook and Instagram, blurring the line between individual and collective memories,’ says psychologist Daniel Schacter, who studies memory at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ‘The development of Internet-based misinformation, such as recently well-publicized fake news sites, has the potential to distort individual and collective memories in disturbing ways.’”

nature_NF_Memory-illo_09.03.2017“Although history has frequently been interpreted for political ends, psychologists are now investigating the fundamental processes by which collective memories form, to understand what makes them vulnerable to distortion. They show that social networks powerfully shape memory, and that people need little prompting to conform to a majority recollection — even if it is wrong. Not all the findings are gloomy, however. Research is pointing to ways of dislodging false memories or preventing them from forming in the first place.”

“To combat the influence of fake news, says Micah Edelson, a memory researcher at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, ‘it’s important to understand not only the creation of these sites, but also how people respond to them’”.

SOURCE: Spinney, Laura. “How Facebook, Fake News and Friends Are Warping Your Memory.” Nature News.

How Do Languages Change & Evolve

Alex Gendler explains how linguists group languages into language families, demonstrating how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past.

SOURCE: Gendler, Alex. “How Do Languages Evolve.” TED-Ed.

Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong

dewaal-human-rights_body2“Human rights advocacy is a critique of power, not a directive for exercising it; humility is not only a necessary character trait but also an ideal. I now believe that a fully emancipatory human rights practice must be based on an agenda set by the affected people. This requires challenging the iniquitous structures of power that too often stand in the way of emancipation or co-opt narratives of human rights for their own ends.”

SOURCE: Waal, Alex de. “Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong.” Boston Review.

Four Things That Happen When a Language Dies

Four Things That Happen When a Language Dies

  1. We lose “The expression of a unique vision of what it means to be human”
  2. We lose memory of the planet’s many histories and cultures.
  3. We lose some of the best local resources for combatting environmental threats.
  4. Some people lose their mother tongue.

mtff-image1-jpg__800x600_q85_crop“What’s happening with today’s language loss is actually quite different from anything that happened before. Languages in the past disappeared and were born anew, she writes, but ‘they did so in a state of what linguists call ‘linguistic equilibrium.” In the last 500 years, however, the equilibrium that characterized much of human history is now gone. And the world’s dominant languages—or what are often called ‘metropolitan’ languages—are all now rapidly expanding at the expense of ‘peripheral’ indigenous languages. Those peripheral languages are not being replaced.”

SOURCE: Eschner, Kat. “Four Things That Happen When a Language Dies.” Smithsonian Magazine.

What Is Postcolonial Sociology?

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“Postcolonial sociology, then, is a sociology actively committed to a different world. It is a sociology that recognises the legacy of the colonial past in the present. And it is a sociology that seeks to identify possible futures that move us beyond the present through an address of contemporary inequalities that are themselves recognised as manifestations of longer-standing historical injustices of dispossession, genocide, colonialism, appropriation, and enslavement.”

 

 

 

SOURCE: Bhambra, Gurminder K. “What Is Postcolonial Sociology?” Social Global Theory. 

Blue History

Cultural and postcolonial theorists find radical potential in the idea that the ocean keeps track of history and calls us to recount and record it. For many scientists, too, the ocean’s role as a record of history allows it to be studied in truly global ways. In this perhaps unlikely resonance of scientific and postcolonial thought, there emerges what I call the ocean archive: a record of life on Earth, formed and filtered through marine dynamics, and only available to us in partial and unpredictable ways.”

fullsizerender4“In an era of climate change and capitalist globalization, it is easy to make local dynamics and relations subservient to larger-scale imaginaries. How can we speak of a “global environment” when it is experienced in frequently unequal and exploitative ways? The challenge is to build upon this resonance in the ocean archive and question it in order to rethink the relationship between planetary natural history and the ravages of unequal human experience.”

SOURCE: Lehman, Jessica. “Blue History.” The New Inquiry.