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“Consider how textbooks treat Native religions as a unitary whole. The American Way describes Native American religion in these words: "These Native Americans [in the Southeast] believed that nature was filled with spirits. Each form of life, such as plants and animals, had a spirit. Earth and air held spirits too. People were never alone. They shared their lives with the spirits of nature." Way is trying to show respect for Native American religion, but it doesn't work. Stated flatly like this, the beliefs seem like make-believe, not the sophisticated theology of a higher civilization. Let us try a similarly succinct summary of the beliefs of many Christians today: "These Americans believed that one great male god ruled the world. Sometimes they divided him into three parts, which they called father, son, and holy ghost. They ate crackers and wine or grape juice, believing that they were eating the son's body and drinking his blood. If they believed strongly enough, they would live on forever after they died." Textbooks never describe Christianity this way. It's offensive. Believers would immediately argue that such a depiction fails to convey the symbolic meaning or the spiritual satisfaction of communion.”—Lies My Teacher Told Me, James Loewen
“Ideologically speaking, over-simplifications and the conclusions based on such paint the picture of a world that is much different from the world as it is. The reduction of everything to “the market vs. the state” (more precisely, everything in “the market” being a voluntary transaction whereas every forceful transaction constitutes “the state”) in a completely fucked up binary logic is an example of this. Markets are not always political institutions and, as stated previously, can breed their own forms of coercion. Property relations play a huge role in this: capitalist property relations will lead to the formation of classes, and thus the governmental principle. Class societies are predicated on the opressive social norms that reproduce governments that work to reinforce those norms and class structures. The state dominates and embezzles through its own false principles and institutions to stabilize capitalism (though governmental principle, use of violent force, monopolization) just as capital dominates and embezzles property by its own norms and seeks the solidity through the state and culture to enforce its norms. In other words, as distinct as they may be, capital and the governmental state inevitably work to reinforce each other. You will never abolish or lessen one without abolishing or lessening the other. The logic of “market vs. state” is also why the issues of commodification and consumer society are more than not deliberately left out of most market anarchist discourse. In this case it’s impossible to break either of these concepts down to some simplistic notion of “government distorting the market is the problem, a market completely free(d) of government is the solution”, since such phenomena go beyond the usual dichotomy. Even the criticisms of “big society” can’t explain it either, since commodification could easily happen in a small market consisting entirely of small producers, as I’ve stated previously. Since commodities are a central part of markets, the question must be how we can ensure that the commodity remains in its “right” function and that the constant trade of commodities doesn’t manifest itself into a world of illusions or fetishisms.”—Counter-Economics and the Counterculture
“the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. the class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it.”—karl marx and friedrich engels, the german ideology, in the marx-engels reader, ed. robert c. tucker (new york: norton, 1978), p. 172
Cultural Hegemony explained
So because I’m too technologically inept to put up the cartoon I drew for my Government class; here’s my explanation of Cultural Hegemony.
Imagine that capitalist society is a cake. A big, fat delicious cake. There are some burnt bits around the edges, but people are too polite to point them out.
Now, of course, to make a cake, you need a cook. The cook is the bourgeois ruling class. And the oven he cooks it in is the State Apparatus. Bear with me here.
And we can’t forget the ingredients! The main ingredient in a cake is flour, which represents the working class. Now, the flour doesn’t especially like being part of a cake, and if they were left up to their own devices, they’d probably try and overthrow the cake system. You could even call it self-rising (up) flour!!
If the capitalist cook were to put the flour straight into the oven, it would go everywhere, and turn into a massive blob which would ruin the oven (which is the state apparatus, remember?) BUT…this is the clever bit…the cook has put eggs in the cake to hold it all together. These eggs are so good they make the flour think that being in a cake is actually pretty swell, and so the whole society/cake is held together. The eggs stop the flour from going shit-crazy all over the place.
The eggs are the hegemony!
This, my friends, is…
“The fact of hegemony presupposes that account is taken of the interests and tendencies of the groups over which hegemony is to be exercised, that a certain balance of compromise should be formed- in other words that the leading group should make sacrifices of an economic-corporative kind. But there is no doubt that although hegemony is ethico-political, it must be economic, must necessarily be based on the decisive function exercised by the leading group in the decisive nucleus of economic activity.”—Antonio Gramsci
“West Indians face the Western world with a historical background that bespeaks metamorphosis in the saddle of colonialist and imperialist leverage. Though our African origins are indubitable, the heterogeneous influences that shape the West Indian society is much harder to define. The Caribbean is a boiling pot of assorted races, societies, beliefs and languages; no two islands are entirely the same, hence the inherent heterogeneity of the region. The concept of creolization attempts to explicate the genesis of this melange of races, languages, traditions and cultures. Anthropologist Sidney Mintz expounds that Caribbean cultures developed remarkably as a result of the "enslavement and forced transportation" of its diasporic ancestors (qtd. in Scott 191). Enslavement he states is the parallelism that Caribbean people share and essentially gives the Caribbean its distinctive social form. This similarity of subjugation of the African culture and affliction that enslavement and European culturally hegemony presented, greatly affects the cultural identity that Caribbean people developed. The definition and redefinition of what it means to be West Indian has transmuted and concepts such as cultural hegemony and hybridity seek to elucidate the ever-changing nature of our identity. As Linda Cinkova rightly states "new identities are appearing while the old ones become more complex" (Cinkova 3). As our identity changes, understanding the nascent identities that shape us is becoming more and more problematic or at best, difficult.”—Rae Voisin
My detachment towards Hinduism was not only because my disagreement towards a personal god, but it is because that I’m embarrassed to embrace the culture due to western hegemony and their brainwash over me and also because of my hegemonic environment I live in. A few days ago, during this award show, I was with my friends, who were all white and unfamiliar with anything, who started to ask stereotypical questions like “Is your dad a computer engineer? Well, he’s Indian, that’s why” or “What? Your parents are Hindus? So do they worship Kali and drink blood?” Thanks to Steven Spielberg, no one understands who Kali is and dismiss the case with preposterous idolatry. I can apply myself to Spivak’s subaltern because I am embarrassed, publically, of what Hinduism has done that triggered the British and other Western colonizers into thinking Hinduism is a cult. I cannot speak, therefore, that I am embarrassed that Sati was a tradition practice during when the British colonized us—and it has transformed and allowed the British to imperialize and hegemonize our culture and tradition, without thinking twice about how oppressive and patriarchal the Western society is. It is not like idol worshipping is bad, but throughout western colonialism, it has been shunned and to be seen as ‘bad’. I find myself, my parents and others chasing western ideas and cultures rather than Asian cultures or Eastern cultures due to the fact of western domination over us. I cannot speak, my parents cannot, my ancestors could not, so they were dominated into such, and were imperialized culturally, religiously, with distorted Christianity, and bourgeois traditions that has not only seek western cultures just to look ‘elegant’, but to also show pride and wealth—and to look rich and westernized. India is a reflection of how it was sabotaged by bourgeois imperialism; now it is referred as a third-world and not to be seen again. No one begs to differ about how prosperous the culture is, the people cannot speak because they are dominated. Edward Sa’id said himself that the Occident (France, British—the westeners) has brought this idea of superiority over the Orient, which has been smashed up to be known as the Middle East, Indians, and the East Asians without any known fact, and the Occident has created assumptions and stereotype of our culture(s) and publishing it in every printed material, which cause us not to speak, but rather to witness the cultural hegemony—that we are and were the subaltern.
Shades of White and Brown, Shades of Faith
An American friend of mine once said, chuckling, “Turks are the Muslims that Americans like the most, because you know… you guys are at least white.” I remember feeling disturbed regardless of the heavily ironical context of the statement.
Something happened to me today in a line at the supermarket. By pure chance, I struck up a conversation with a middle-aged Brown person [whose ethnicity and gender I prefer not to reveal], and after commenting on how “white” my skin is, and then how I don’t have a recognisable accent, the person said: “oh, if you only didn’t wear a hijab, nobody would think you are a Muslim or from the East… they would think you are European. How nice it would be.”
The horror, the disgust I felt, I can’t put it into words. The thing is: I have heard this before. Quite a few times. From both “people of the West” and “people of the East” as they are seen.
I felt like crying. I felt like vomiting. I felt like running away.
I wanted to get mad at this person. I wanted to scream at this person. I wanted to punch this person.
But the person was innocent to a degree: as far as I could see, there was no “intentional” evil in the words - the evilness of the whole thing was actually at how genuine the gaffe was. How “normal” it was to “hope”, to “wish” to be “like them”; that was the true evil.
Surely the person was “right” from a pragmatic view; it would be way easier to live, thus something to hope for, if only I was not visibly a Muslim. Not only for Canada where I now live for most of the time, but also for Turkey, my country of origin - a place where you are deemed more worthy when you are secular and hijab is still a taboo despite half the country’s women wearing it.
What I cannot, what I will never understand is how we accept this uneasy reality and turn it into an ideal and instil it so deep in our hearts and minds; it should be something else, something fair and just that we idealise and we should aim to shatter this unjust reality for our ideals, not the other way around. Am I too naive? Am I too sensitive? I don’t know.
All I know is that, beyond all, I am actually even afraid to be identified as the one who would hate me simply for my belief or skin colour.
Cultural Hegemony : Coming Out?
Who’s hiding?….Shiii I ain’t hiding.
I don’t like the term “coming out”. It implies that I’m hiding. It implies that I’m a coward or I have a fear. Secrets get hid, lies get hid. I’m not hiding a lie or a secret. But all of a sudden “I’m coming out to you”. Coming out… but why? When I tell you my favorite food … am I coming out as well? Or when I reveal that I own a Flat screen TV, am I coming out? What’s the difference between me not telling you that I’m gay and that my favorite colors are blue and green? Not a damn thing.
The only reason why you see it as me “coming out” is because majority of the world is straight. The dominant culture has taught you to assume that everyone is straight, which is wrong. This is when the insensitivity of the majority is turned into the crime of the minority. Because you assumed that I was straight, you’ve concluded that I have been hiding the fact that I am gay; When in actuality I’ve been gay all along and you’ve just been assuming that I was straight.
I’m not coming out. I’m not hiding.You just couldn’t see me because your eyes were closed all along.
on colours on St Patrick's Day
If you wear orange without green and white, you better be able to back that up with justification.
Of course, wearing just green is a bit problematic too, but l give up any hope of convincing US Americans to do otherwise.
/ PSA from somewhere where there are still tensions around this kplsthxbai
Brought to you by something I was reminded of in Kinsey (genderbitch)’s Tumblr.
“Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”—Hermann Goering
Instructing the Ignorant: A Teacher's Work of MercyJames Eric Siburt: Humanities Faculty
The old proverb that says if you give a man[woman] a Fish you feed him[her] for a day; teach a man[woman] to fish and you feed him[her] for a lifetime, only holds true when the other proverb, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, is not in play. In this case, the latter negates the former as the assumption with the first proverb is that a desire to learn exists. The major issue with education in American culture is that there is a lack of desire to learn. We live in a society of instant gratification where we have receded from being an agrarian culture that toils and strives to work the land and build community, to a life of nomadic gatherers who move with the economic flow to scavenge off of the land by following the path of least resistance.
The group consensus seems to be that we want to be given the correct answers as opposed to discovering the truth for ourselves. Even though we literally have the answers at our fingertips, the majority of people will still ask another person (and take it as fact) before researching a solution. America is known globally for its insufferable individualism claiming we don’t need anyone else’s help and that we can do it on our own. Ironically, Americans in general perceive this as an admirable quality, one that is perpetuated through our methods of education. One has to wonder whatever happened to the original ideals that United a diverse people from differing States together as Americans? Due to the inaccurate and individualistic nature of our grading system, students typically despise group projects and just want to receive their self-deserving A.
Our Educational Hegemony
Over the years I have asked several students, point blank, “If you don’t have an interest in learning what is being taught, then why are you in school?” Quite often the answer I receive can be distilled down to something like this, “I need to jump through the hoops to get the piece of paper that validates my life choices and the knowledge I already possess.” This pragmatic arrogance (and/or ignorance) permeates American education and is often perpetuated by the very educational system that was intended to create life-long learners. If education is understood to be an activity in which the teacher spews forth information that students then regurgitate back to receive an individual grade, then some students are only being fed for a day, while others thirst at the watering trough, refusing to drink.
Teaching is a joint experience whereby both instructor and student share in the learning process. Each person brings into the learning process her unique life experiences that have shaped her understanding of the world and how it should function. In this manner, their pragmatic experiences are acknowledged and valued, all the while leaving the door open for further educational growth. These life experiences have value as they have formed a particular lens through which the student explores the concepts and ideas presented within the curriculum. Encouraging students to share their perspectives and valuing their interpretations reduces and/or eliminates any barriers to expanding and focusing the lens that a student brings to the subject of study. If educators hope to overcome years of this self-perpetuating cultural hegemony within education, then leaders must emerge within the academy who are not afraid of abandoning a broken system and blazing a new trail.
Teachers are leaders who influence students to action and that action can take many forms. I believe these forms, and their outcomes, should be the primary reason teachers engage in a pedagogical act. It is also these outcomes that should be the primary focus of assessment. The measure of a successful class is not just the final grade a student receives, but the life integration of the learned philosophies and theories, development of a broader world view, and a deeper understanding of what it means to respect and value others regardless of differences. When the students whom I have taught tell me they have been discussing a topic presented in class with their friends, co-workers, or family, it tells me that they have begun integrating what is being taught into their daily lives.
The various curricular activities that are employed in my courses–analytical writing, discussion forums, group presentations, journaling, case studies, media analysis–all serve to immerse the student in the subject being studied, while providing opportunity for various learning styles. For example, while some students may not speak much in class, they may be extremely articulate in an online discussion. Group activities develop real world collaborative skills and, when used in conjunction with contemporary technology and various forms of social media, provide integration with familiar tools present in most people’s daily lives. Regardless of whether the course is being taught online, blended, or in a traditional classroom setting, the combination of these teaching methods and philosophy is invaluable to the shared experience of the learning process.
A Teacher’s Work of Mercy
A very wise Sister, with many years of educational experience, once quipped as I was leaving her office to teach a class, “That it was time to instruct the ignorant.” I chuckled, never hearing the role of teacher referred to in that fashion. As I have pondered that statement since that day I have come to see the wisdom in that simple honest statement. Quite often we don’t know what we don’t know until we are on the other side of an experience, a class, or a degree. We are unaware of our own ignorance and, due to our prideful individualism, we deny that we don’t know something.
I have always referred to humanity’s prideful arrogance as incompetence. Although, not the traditional definition, I believe that the incompetent are those who refuse to receive instruction and chose to remain ignorant, instead of admitting their own intellectual limitations. I take great pride in students who refuse to be handed a fish and ask instead how to bait the hook; or in those who don’t just take a drink, but dive into the trough so as to absorb knowledge through every pore. Yet, it is not just the students who must be willing to immerse themselves in knowledge, teachers must also be life-long learners who realize their own ignorance and the ever changing landscape of the global community. Because, however we choose to engage this World’s “group projects,” in which we live, love, and learn, is how the teacher’s work of mercy will ultimately be defined by history.