Foucault THAT.

I have a confession to make.

Lately, I’ve been cheating on my blog.  (In a good way, I promise!)

A colleague at my university, Clare O’Farrell, has an established Ning that is home to members of the Poststructuralist Theory ‘Special Interest Group’ of AARE.  Established it so well, in fact, that it is one of the few Nings I know of (along with the English Companion) that continued to have happy users after stupid-Ning made its stupid-serivce un-free.  Hmph.

Anyway, I use my space and profile on the ‘Ed Theory Ning’ to brain-vomit about (on?) theory that I don’t understand yet.

And it’s proven #very illuminating.

Increasing my activity in various groups on the Ning has also proven fruitful.  Particularly in the ‘Daily Writing Club’ (we have to do exactly as it says…!) and now also from browsing the ‘Foucault reading group’.

That’s where I was reminded to check out Clare’s actual blog, Refracted Input, which I hadn’t done for ages.  This month she is discussing a quote by Foucault about ‘race and colonialism’, and in it I can see a relationship to contemporary discourses around changing technologies.

The term ‘folklore’ is nothing but a hypocrisy of the ‘civilised’ who won’t take part in the game, and who want to hide their refusal to make contact under the mantle of respect for the picturesque…
Man is irrevocably a stranger to dawn. It needed our colonial way of thinking to believe that man could have remained faithful to his beginnings and that there was any place in the world where he could encounter the essence of the ‘primitive’. (trans. Clare O’Farrell)

Michel Foucault, (1994) [1963] ‘Veilleur de la nuit des hommes’ In Dits et Ecrits vol. I. Paris: Gallimard, p. 232.

You see, I’ve been worrying about the ethics of what could be seen as meddling with teachers or students who are comfotable in their print-material ways, trying to prod them along to explore new technologies.  I have wondered, ‘am I being selfish?’, ‘what if they have it right?’, ‘what if I’m destroying something important?’, and ‘am I wrong to advocate for my view, should I just wait and see what happens instead?’.  But then, Clare’s wise words:

One cannot buy into the romanticism of the primitive – which is assumed to be so much closer to pure truth and ‘nature’. Conversely one cannot make the colonial assumption that one civilisation or one period of history (now) is more advanced and more evolved than another.

That’s right.  I don’t need to worry about whether I’ll ‘wreck’ anything, unless I’m thinking of the people I’m meddling with as OTHER.  And I was using pronouns to construct myself in opposition to other through all those damn self-doubts.  I don’t need to do that.  FOUCAULT THAT!

*Sigh of relief*

NB: Clare also curates a website on Michel Foucault, which includes a glossary of KEY CONCEPTS and other wonderful gems (thanks Clare!).

 

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  1. #1 by Clare on July 29, 2011 - 7:45 am

    Hi Kelli, Thank you for your very kind comments about my online work. I was really interested by your application of these ideas on colonialism to print vs digital literacy practices in education. I hadn’t thought of it in those terms before.

    I’ve responded to some of your comments in a blog post http://inputs.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/foucault-power-and-difference/ and have also taken up a comment you posted on your ning blog about power relations and teaching.

    BTW, I find the ning platform rather frustrating in a number of ways. It is somewhat buggy and has pretty dreary templates in terms of design. I was less than pleased (to say the least) when they decided to start charging, but couldn’t find an alternative free (or even reasonably priced) platform which did the same thing – and looked better. (If you know of anything please let me know!) I also find it frustrating that the members don’t make more use of the network. The most used areas would be the two subgroups I have set up for the Daily Writing Club and the Foucault Reading group.

  2. #2 by Karen on July 31, 2011 - 2:30 am

    OMG. A Ning on Ed Theory? I will surely have to shoot myself now.

  1. Foucault, power and difference « Refracted input

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