Data is the go …

24 11 2011

painting by Ellen-Rae Cachola, November 2011

Data is the go to for solutions for our problems. Track instances of a recurring phenomenon to study the trends.  It will help to show patterns of something.  Then we can evidence to the relevant legal, political or economic systems, in a language that they consider understandable, that they need to do something to change or react to the patterns. But is that really an effective way to express our grievances?

What is data but a representation. A limited representation at that.  Technology can capture inputted data through keyboards, or sensors tracking temperature, weight, light, vibration, which are then translated into numerical codes, that can be kept in computer memory and visualization systems. Data presentations allows us to count how many times an instance of a particular phenomenon occurred.  But, as we know, reality is not just a particular instance.  Reality is the interplay of multiple instances occurring simultaneously at once.  Wind blows as the heat of the sun beats on our skin, warming us, as we drive on the free way that weighs how many cars are at 9am on the 10 freeway.  Who are those that are driving but people going somewhere: work, school, appointments, meetings… they are meeting daily tasks, in this society of go, go, go!  Data can also be complex in showing the interplay across multiple phenomenon, so we can make complex causal analyses.

But what is not being seen in our representation?  Computer systems are generally composed of servers, keyboard, monitors, applications, cables and wires to connect the various hardwares.  There are also the resources needed to be mined from the earth, laws and economic policies that had to be passed to allow the tractor to be on a piece of earth to dig up minerals.  There needs to be laws and economic policies to allow the factory to be built for the minerals to be transported to into some kind of electronic device, such as the chip, or the computer hardware it would be encased in.  There needs to be the people displaced from their land to make way for the mining, and turned into wage laborers to work in the factory for some kind of money.  The future they hope for is that through the wage they earn, they can afford to send their children to school, so they can possibly touch the computer, a product that they have played some role in making.  So their child can become some kind of scientist or important political or legal person, to further this pattern of resource extraction and tool manufacturing, as it is the trend toward legal order and economic progress.  What is being not seen is the impact of data truths, and its dependence on technological manufacturing, that also impact ecological,  social and imaginative systems.

As the world is protesting trade liberalization and corrupt national government priorities, the world, particularly the developed world, is also becoming highly data and technological dependent. The laws and economic policies that oppress people to rise up are caused by their tailoring by corporate entities who are involved in the distributed production of various aspects of technological dependence–from the microchips, to the applications, to the hardware, to the software, to the copper, to the labor, to the education, to the culture, to all the myriad platforms that are necessary to allow us to touch an electronic device, and connect with our friends and families on that electronic device.  The fact that many of us in developed worlds can connect our off-line human networks in online spaces reveals that we have been effectively integrated into a system of technological dependence.  This technological dependence is what drives the demand for corporations and markets producing technologies. As we use it, they will come.  As we use it, we give it energy to prove their need, through the data of how many consumers buy their object that they track in data.  Through the data of economic metrics that say people who use technology are driving capitalism forward as it is pulling people from underdeveloped traditional living practices into factories, and jobs, to make our little devices for our information needs in developed parts of the world.  But as people refuse to have their land and cultures taken away by corporations, they rise up and resist.  The technological dependent ones wonder why or sympathesize, and some even take action in solidarity.  But it strange how we resist in systems that we are embedded in, and that we continue to push forward, through our very participation, as we are complicit and resistant in the production the problem.

The point of this is to talk about data, and our dependence on it, as it appears to be a solution to things.  Just provide more data so it can be stronger evidence to make an argument to the state apparatuses that govern our society.  But these apparatuses of law, economy and socialization listen to what they understand, which is how to capitalize off what they hear, as capitalism is the value system that allows these to exist.  These apparatuses listen and talk in numbers.  Data is thus legible to them as it is translating the complexity of reality into numbers.  But, the other facet is that we participate in supporting data through our advocacy of it as truth making, and our over-zealous use of technology to produce this type of truth, without recognizing the social and ecological effects of this pursuit for truth. Data is a limited type of representation of truth. It depends on whole apparatuses of particular orders that pretends to be universal, the totality of reality, but it is not.  The other big part of the solution is still to be mined—i mean, not mined, but perhaps felt and experienced, as you stop, before going on that teleological march toward truth.


The I in I-Schools should stand for Ideology not Information

27 10 2011

Someday I would like to write about information management, according to western logic, and how it transforms bodies, subjectivities according to its structure. This has been written by Foucault and sociologists of knowledge, I think, to some degree. They look at specific things, and don’t want to generalize. But things like schools as practicing western information management practices to shape the body into western subjects. We look specifically at the technologies, but how about the culture and values that inform usages of these technologies? The suppression of knowledges seen not as valuable, indigenous knowledge, for example. Generations taught to suppress that knowledge. Generations were taught that western ideology was truth, it began to organize their lives around this culture. It becomes the hallmark of cultural memory, such as the church. It also becomes sites of resistance, where people make meaning within these systems, appropriating figures and symbols given by these institutions, in order to have some sense of faith in times of change. To put one’s energy to the changing order. To participate in it, even if it is unjust. The corralling of bodies. Even native authority says it so. The complexity of this all. Resistance and complicity.

I feel like my mind is being programmed to think so simplistically in these systems thinking. It does reduce things in order to fit according to the logic of the technological affordances that allows information to flow in this networked, systemic way. It is that technological logic that is simplistic, because it is a particular way of knowing and living that can understand and connect to its understanding of reality. Not all realities know this. Or even allowed to know it. There is still the need for a pool of un-knowers so they can be those who build these systems without thinking. The building occurs at different levels of production–the production of stratified classes, the elite classes who use systems to transfer their assets faster than legal and political regulation can capture them; middle class professionals to be technical, managerial class to ensure these systems exist, the working classes to make sure offices are clean and orderly, the impoverished classes who are needed to scare people into fearing there is no other reality than material reality lest one becomes homeless on the street.   All of that stuff left out, when we are thinking so simplistically. Thinking at the level of what we have now. These platforms. These systems. These libraries, these standards, these practices, these institutions, these archives, these softwares. Already, these have left out so much.

I can’t go back to my anthropological class. My information studies professors tend to have an open mind about it, but they don’t let me own it. They always lead me back to what a white, old anthropologist said. An anthropologist they feel comfortable with. Not a postcolonial anthropologist, who began to question their own discipline as it participated in the colonization of ancestries. The questions I ask about these systems are what interests me. But teachers like Ghaznavi, are only interested in me getting these systems. I know I should get them. But, I have questions about the ethics of these systems. The questions of ethics are so strong that they challenge my ability to cognitively absorb what she means; to think innovatively and interestingly in what she is offering for us to think hard about.   Is it possible for me to desensitize myself to learning things that I don’t think is meaningful to emancipation of people? To desensitize myself is to fall amongst the most complicitous masses—and we wonder why the world doesn’t change. That pool of complicitous keeps being produced. I’m sorry, but I am interested in intervention.

So, I hope to fail. My heart breaks because of the work I think I contributed to this path. The dreams I built around it to become in the thread of D Turnbull, bringing in the traditions of A. Chatterji and R. Shapiro. But the two latter have been ousted from their positions, and I feel without a foundation in the academic realm. But it was a sign. They have trained me to not need foundations. But to have a sense of value within, because of history, because of memory, embedded within me, and triggered by everyday reality that does not hide the truth. The ideologies of professors and what they attempt to put in front of my face is just the realities they see, holding up systems they work for, preparing us to be able to meet those standards they are swimming up to their necks to survive in. To them, its make it or break it. That is not the reality I seek to live when the chance for survival means there is winning or losing. The ideology of capitalism creates a subconscious competitiveness, to be the best, even though the parameters of being so means trampling over others, becoming the crabs in the bucket, seeking a way out by grabbing down those numerical bodies. Such a poetic interpretation of metadata. They all want to climb of the buckets, the schools, to be out in the system of the state, working for these corporations and institutions that treat information people like shit. They don’t care about you until something goes wrong. What a dehumanized life. Dehumanized people teach dehumanized subjects.

I aim to fail from this, in order to find my heart in my life. To hold on to my heart when they say it isn’t good enough. Cast me away from your dungeon paradise.

Cultural Heritage in Ilocos Sur

28 08 2011

As I am reflecting on my past visit to Ilocos Sur, and Vigan’s relationship to UNESCO, I found this website:

It is the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts that worked with UNESCO in sustaining cultural heritage in the Philippines. In the Rationale of the NCCA web page, it says,

“The UNESCO declares that there are two approaches to preserve cultural heritage: one is to record it in a tangible form and conserve it in archives; the other is to preserve it in a living form by ensuring its transmission to the next generations.
The establishment of Schools of Living Traditions (SLT) is in response to the second approach. While there are various facets of cultural heritage that can be transmitted to the next generations, this program would like to specifically focus on the transmission of indigenous skills and techniques to the young. It aims to encourage culture specialists/masters to continue with their own work, develop and expand the frontiers of that work, and train younger people to take their place in the future.”

I like this quote because it helps me put my own research into perspective. Since my academic training is in archives, I’ve been reading the monuments and cathedrals in the Ilocos region as products of colonial records. But now, this quote tells me there’s another way to connect with indigenous “living records” which are in the form of skills and techniques such as in dances and crafts.

Since my focus is on the Ilocos region, I found that there are a few SLTs that were established there. It supports the Bago tribal dances, weaving, blacksmith work, among other things. This corrects my previous post that said Ilocanos didn’t have metals prior to Spanish arrival. They did have gold and other metals that they used for jewelry and tools.

There’s a really good website that came out of the SLT at Banayoyo, Ilocos Sur:

Ilocano Balikbayan reading postcolonial archive of Vigan

10 08 2011

This summer, I went back home to the place where my parents and grandparents are from. Ilocos Sur. As my 2 grandmas passed to the otherside, they pulled me to return to where they once walked.

Good bye apo, we love you. Santa Lucia Cathedral, Narvacan.

There are different kinds of industries in Narvacan. Farmers sell their vegetables in the palenque and in the market.

Ili ti (town of) Sta. Lucia, Narvacan.

Others work for the government. In the town, there are various electronic and cell phone vendors, and also an Internet Cafe. The latter was helpful in getting some work done. In Narvacan, going online is not as accessible because wifi isn’t ubiquitous as it is like in other cities in the U.S. Although, some people have Internet on their phones if they can afford it.  In the Internet Cafes, I saw a lot of youth gamers, especially in Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur.  It seems that its mostly young folks use the Internet Cafes. Young adults are also managers of those cafes. They use Microsoft XP systems. I wonder how the introduction of technology is changing the cultures of the generations.

A common saying among some of my mestizo family members is that “farming is never fun.” But, I found that a sad comment as it meant a disconnection from the way that Ilocanos are connected to the land.  Ilocanos plant rice.  It is wet-soil agriculture. It is what connects Ilocanos to the Southeast Asian and Pacific people’s land based agricultural practices.  There is a science to wet soil agriculture. My uncle mentioned how in Sagada, the people plant rice and also grow fish in the waters. The fish eat the bugs that would otherwise be a pest to the rice. When the fish grow, they are also a secondary form of food to complement the rice when harvested and cooked.

The Bigaa plant that was common on the banks of Vigan when Spanish came. It is the plant that Vigan is named after. The leaves look like a taro plant.

I kept thinking about the disavowal of farming among certain Ilocano classes. Half of me comes from a line of people who still farm, and another half of me comes from a line that disavows farming. These contradictory ideologies is a microcosm of the Philippines at large. There are the structural inequities that produce huge gaps between the privileged and the poor.  But, there’s also this drive of economic development and technological modernization that serve as a hope for the privileged and the poor.  The mestizo side of the family that lived in the ili have almost all gone abroad, expect for one of my maternal side’s sibling and his family.  They have landed jobs in the U.S., and their money has power when they come to the PI, reinforcing their classed position when they were here before. But, this is of course a temporary power, as they will once again leave their family house empty again in the care of a fisher folk woman and her family.  The farmer side of the family are in the barrios, and only a few have been able to go abroad. My paternal grandpa was among those in the barrios who was able to trailbraze my grandma, my dad and uncles, to have a chance abroad, to achieve a material advantage of the U.S. currency, to produce me, where my immediate family is today, and thus, in a privileged position here in the PI.  Now, more of the women of my paternal side of the family are trying to go abroad.

My dad at his old high school. This was also my mom's too.

Its so easy to fall into those black and white assumptions that going abroad is a reproduction of colonization, and staying in the Philippines is a resistance to it.  Although, it is true that the phenomenon of the brain drain is symptom of colonization, and people who choose to stay to use their knowledge to build the Philippines helps to counter the brain drain.  But at the same time, going abroad doesn’t have to be all problematic. Just like engaging in economy, technology and modernization doesn’t have to be all problematic.  Sometimes engagement with the flows of power is needed in order to use it, to understand it, and infuse it with memories of what one feels is important, of what one values.

For example, the city of Vigan has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The discourses of historical monuments and urban design of the city builds upon the Spanish contact as the moment of progressive development. The Spanish-Native Filipino-Chinese cultural mixtures in architecture, historical characters, religion, business, food become what is praised. Never mind the fact that native Filipinos were brutalized by the Spanish, especially during the Basi Revolt, when the Spanish prohibited native Ilocanos from brewing their own basi (sugar cane wine) so that the colonial government could monopolize it.  Nevermind the abuses of high ranking Spanish military men, soldiers and friars on native Ilocanos. Nevermind the executions of Ilocano freedom fighters Diego and Gabriela Silang and their crew.  It seems that the UNESCO touch has monumentalized the history of Ilocano resistance, mixing it within a narrative of western favortism, in which time has since improved the primitivity of the Ilocanos, toward a more progressive, mestizo, western, modern, possibility.

Evolution of State Apparatuses in Plaza Salcedo, Vigan. We were eating at Micky Ds across from Vigan Cathedral.

But at the same time, the modernization process in the Philippines has not been all foreign controlled. Local peoples, natives, to mestizos with native values, have also built that city.  Prior to the Spanish, Ilocanos were already trading with Chinese, Japanese, Malays, and others. The Pagburnayan (place to create jars) is evidence of pre-colonial trade in the Ilocos region.  These jars were used by early Ilocano and Asian traders to transport goods between countries.  Pagburnayan continues to exist, but not at the commercial peak it used to enjoy before.  When we visited and spoke to the owner of the Pagburnayan says that many youth are more interested in jueteng than learning this native Ilocano craft of making clay jars.  Although, he has been able to pass down this knowledge to just a few people in order to continue this trade to satisfy the local heritage market.

Some examples of vases they make at the Pagburnayan. They have bigger ones with covers.

Ah, the local heritage market. If the land was the archive, the UNESCO sponsored monuments are records of a postcolonial history. Problematic narratives that praise the hispanicization of the Ilocos region, which mirrors internalized Eurocentrism in certain Ilocanos with access to, or glimpses to pastures of, privilege. But, also in those monuments, there are evidences of Ilocano resistance through literature,

Leona Florentino, Ilocana poet during Spanish era

Record inscription on Leona Florentino monument.


Padre Burgos statue at Plaza Burgos, Vigan. He was one of the Filipino priest martyrs (Gomez-Burgos-Zamora) that sought equity for brown Filipnos during the racism of Spanish times. He was accused of inciting rebellion during the Cavite Mutiny of 1872 and was arrested along with the 2 other priests.

survival through repression,

This vase is one among 4 that surround a monumental obelisk that records information on Juan de Salcedo, the Spaniard who was responsible for the Spanish military occupation of Vigan. His efforts founded the Spanish colonization of the Ilocos region. The vase depicts people carrying various burdens, and walking somewhere. The people look tired. Do they represent the experiences of Ilocanos during times of occupation? Plaza Salcedo, where these vases are located, is the very place where Gabriela Silang was executed by Spanish officials.

technological innovation,

Original ilocano raincoat and bag. Native threads. This was at the Burgos museum in Vigan. There's museums that dot the Ilocos region. They say many of the locals don't go. But, these cater to the local heritage market, especially for those who want introductory information on the history of the place and culture.

Hanging fridge. That's where you keep left overs. In the air, it is kept cool and away from ants.

Basi maker requires a carabao to be connected to the long lever that portrudes horizontally so that it can turn the two cylinders which would squeeze out the juice of the sugar cane stalks placed between them. The mortar and pestle is used to crush and grind things.

Original Ilocano stove. Just put the hot coals in the long pan underneath, and the pot and wok above will boil.

through engineering development.

Early Spanish cathedrals in Ilocos were supervised by friars, but built by native Ilocanos.  This was also true for the cathedrals in California, such as San Francisco de Asis, or Mission Dolores church, in SF.  Many architects did not want to go to far flung colonies during the Spanish colonial era. So the missionaries would employ the labor of native people to build the cathedrals.

Santa Maria is a Spanish catedral used for evangelizing the indigenous folks in Abra, as well as in the lowlands. This picture is a part of the handrail going up lots of steps. The steps and height of the church’s location was supposed to incite the power and glory of that building, as part of the evangelizing effect on the native people. In the background of this picture is a classic Vigan house with capiz windows.

Ceiling of Cathedral.

Doesn't this look like Tenochtitlan or Mesoamerican pyramdic architecture? There was exchange between Philippines (Cebu, Manila and Vigan) and Mexico through Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade. This architectural design could be evidence of Mexican cultural exchange with the Philippines which was inscribed in this Santa Maria church in Ilocos Sur.

Vigan Heritage River Cruise of the Mestizo river, with narration on history of Ilocos from pre-colonial to colonial times. Practicing the idea of a "living museum." There were also local folks fishing for food as we were going down the river.

Little statue tucked amongst the gardens at Hidden Gardens. This place is a nursery that tastefully arranges plants for sale, as well as has a cafe to buy poqui-poqui tempura longanisa and fresh juice shakes, among other things. There's also a small resort/inn being built in the area. I thought it was an example of ecological tourism, and income generating business. Even the toilets were tastefully designed, but cost 10 pesos to use it.

Bonsai trees at Hidden Gardens, Vigan. Another cool place to check out if you're in town.

The Vigan postcolonial archive was woven together through the calesa. The calesa service is also regulated by the Vigan touristic services because they take patrons to the various historic and cultural sites of the city, such as the ones I mentioned above. People can go to Salcedo Plaza, in front of Vigan Cathedral, to catch a ride with the calesa for 150 pesos. This method of expressing history and culture, through experience, seeing cultural sites, which also provide some form of income for local people, reveal Vigan as a postcolonial city. The contradictions of each record, which are the buildings, the places, the businesses, the people, the cultures, the histories we encountered, are inter-related to each other through the calesa ride that weaves them together.  The whole city becomes the archive.  The structures, the government that made it be, the people.  It cannot be denied that there’s an issue of commercial exploitation of culture. Ilocano culture and history being commercialized through tourism. But at the same time, Vigan has been able to create jobs for locals, as well as communicate information about the place.  Is it possible to self-determine Ilocano history through the records that were made accessible in the landscape?

There was a deep saying by an old Chinese guy we met on a jeepney today: “Filipinos grab the dagger by the blade for a chance to survive.”

Isdaa is a restaurant we visited in Tarlac as we left Ilocos going to Manila. It is a floating restaurant with a native, water park theme.

Native Filipinos, among other Austronesians, did not have iron nails to build. But, they did build infrastructures through techniques of weaving together wood. Here's a picture of a bridge in the Isdaa restaurant where each wood was woven to the next, as well as the rails. I think it was plastic threads that was used to weave. But, its an interesting example of native Pacific/Southeast Asian islander engineering that builds with non-metallic, organic materials. Native Filipinos built civilizations that were made of natural materials. Eurocentric histories used to say only those with metals were "civilized." But, since native Filipino buildings could biodegrade, they did not last as long as metallic buildings. But, this kind of natural building is more in tune with the Philippine environment which constantly rains and has earthquakes. Things are meant to biodegrade, and people are meant to build and rebuild. The architecture also could reflect native Filipino philosophy on life.

Ilocanos, among other native Filipinos, have encountered colonization, and are still embedded within infrastructures left behind by imperial powers. But, at the same time, Ilocanos, among other Filipinos, need to engage with what is available to them, in order to survive. It means learning to create and use technology and business, within a commercializing and technologically modernizing society.  Vigan is a place that has the opportunity to include culture and history into the mix of contemporary development.  My experience in Vigan has inspired me to imagine possibilities of what the Philippines can be, if the history and culture is taken to heart and honored, if the values can be read in a way sensitive to issues of social and economic justice, and infuse this way of thinking into using the tools we use to build today and the future.

The Impact of Environment on Understanding Health Holistically

31 05 2011

On Democracy Now, there was A very interesting talk by Canadian Dr. Gabor Mate on the impact of our social environment and human development. He argues that stressful environments, such as children’s experience of disconnection, abuse and neglect, from their parents impairs children’s own human development.  That is, nurturing and caring environments for babies to young children, are required in order to produce particular brain chemicals (he talks about dopamine), which helps children know what happiness and a-life-worth-living feels like.  However, if parents are living in stressful or traumatizing environments, such as what post-industrial capitalist society is causing upon family structures, particularly in low-income and poorer communities, such as making parents work away from their children, or stressful life situations to the degree that they lose patience with their children, this creates conditions where parents are more pre-disposed to disconnect from their children, or neglect or abuse them.   This kind of social environment impacts the human development of their children, which leads to these children being more vulnerable to addictions (drug or social addictions).  Mate argues that people need more emotional connection in families or in communities, and these problems among people from stressful backgrounds or societies is not just a genetic issue.  Thus, societal institutions, from businesses, corporations, to hospitals, to education systems, to family structures, shouldn’t be taken off the hook when it comes to understanding how human well being can be achieved. Each institution has a responsibility to pay attention to the impacts that have on human relationships, and they have to also be part of creating contexts for human well being, and holistic health.

Thinking through ‘Blood-Memory’ in what we know as the ‘Archive’

22 11 2010

What is the postcolonial archive?
It is the landscape of memory
that compete for recognition
while one materializes and stifles
the others into its veins
like a white leviathan nation
assimilating and annihilating
the other memories as wandering ghosts
that haunt buildings and streets
who live on in possessed mediums
who are imprisoned and tortured
for remembering

how does the postcolonial archive become dominated?
in the bodies of those taught by boxes
that stifle bodies into seats
so the white leviathan representative
pours knowledge into straight jacketed children
to only see within the four walls as valid truths
as father’s bodies are thrown out of coal factories
as mothers’ bodies whore for shillings
able bodies, able pussies
for the penetration of factory piping into the vein of the living archive
for the penetration of penises into the embodied practice of a factory investor

Industry, nation-hood. democracy as sham
only if you can pay with your body
into the cult of objectification and commodification
the living is validated only as dead.

I read Forgetting the Alam0, Or, Blood Memory by Emma Perez to understand what happened to Mexicanos, Tejanos, Indigenous, Blacks, women and lesbians during the violences of Manifest Destiny in southern Texas.

Before I read the book, I walked the streets of San Antonio, passing the Alamo, walking on old cobble stone streets, passing the old western bars, thinking these are the grounds where native, local, and enslaved people were rounded up, slaughtered, raped, killed. This place is where these people were forced into the logic of objectification and commodification that drove the zeal of white settlers to create the white, American, national landscape of memory across the American West.  This place is the postcolonial archive, where old western towns, now commercial landscapes of “Ripleys Believe It or Not,” and Chain Hotels, stand as modern, continuing narratives of old colonial stone forts, baroque cathedrals and Spanish-style stucco stone hotels. Yet, the bodies of Mexicanos, Tejanos, Xicanos, Blacks, Mixed-Blacks, Black-Native men and women work as wage employees in these modern colonial landscapes.

The South West Workers Union did a strike at the Hyatt because this hotel on 600 E. Market Street overworks the house keepers, they over work their cafe and restaurant workers, and they harrass the employees who organize unions and strikes.

The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center brought in speakers from the American Studies Association to talk about the privatization of education in California, the passage and impact of SB 1070 and the anti-Ethnic Studies Law in Arizona, and the pipelines between schools and prisons, to build community-academic dialogue on the state of education, the state of knowledge, in today’s privatized and militarized age.  These days are a reflection of the foundation crafted by white settlers, that scalped native and mexicano bodies, lynched and hacked and whipped black people’s bodies, that raped native, mexicana, black women and children, to whiten the landscape into the money making institutions that erupted from the violences they reify as the truth worth preserving, worth stewarding, worth passing down, into the minds of displaced, orphaned, parent-less children, products of raped and murdered parentage, children, straight-jacketed by the trauma of their blood-memory severed by a severe epidemic of madness and violence covering the earth called America, in this language.

Yet, the spirits of the land are still strong and remind those in struggle about the silences of this postcolonial archive. That the records of their story are in the bodies of workers and people of colors that strike and resist the truth that our bodies, our sweat and our dreams are not equatable to a dollar, to someone else’s price.  We are re-gathering our wealth of spirit, our wealth of memories, our wealth of inner strength, as medicine. The zeal of the white culture has been a festering wound of violence, and now they are vanquishing with their pain.  They pretend they are okay, getting plastic surgery, tummy tucking their lard of excess, driving in big fat cars.  But, they feel and emptiness that with every pill they pop, they become the wax museum object in Ripleys Believe it Or Not that sits across the Alamo.  The pills make them feel their destiny is right. The pain they have inflicted has all been for their benefit.  Their privilege. Their blood memory sucked out a long time ago.

The Postcolonial Archive is grooved by a closed circuit of madness feeding madness as progress.  Violence feeding violence as truth of order.  Emma Perez wrote a book to circulate amongst the information networks of this society where madness feeds madness and violence feeds violence.  To intervene in the system by touching people to remember by reading. She is digger deeper another groove in this landscape of the postcolonial archive.  A groove that has been there so long before, but it has been forgotten, and the children have not be taught to keep digging, so that’s why the groove was dusted over and difficult to find.  But Perez is now digging this groove by writing the genre of Chicana western novels. The story awakens the blood-memory of readers helping us listen to the silences of the postcolonial archive that can be seen as the history of people who work as wage workers, as strikers, as other memories of the colonial fort, cobble stone streets, cathedrals and western bars.  If these buildings had eyes, ears and mouths, what other stories did they document and could they tell, besides the pride marching band songs and state flags fluttering in the sky? Would they echo the screams, and blood splattering, and the muffled sounds of women and children’s mouths during the grunts of men defiling bodies of the innocent made into an object to penetrate?

The record is to be created, to be circulated upon many mediums, to be housed in many archives as possible. So more and more can be touched, can be remembered, and bring back “blood-memory” to be circulated in our bodies, to be circulated in the veins of our societies again. To remember the root cause of this madness. To stop the root cause of this violence. To understand what has been left unresolved since that original act violence.

Organic Intellectuals: Records in the living social movement archive

16 10 2010

Ephemerality and unfixity
because of process
In movement, flux.

The social movement archive is dynamic through responding to issues at hand. There are multiple instances of issues. Privatization of education is an instance of a structural, political-economic issue that pervades institutions, bodies, information objects that help us remember the material order we inhabit.  I seek to explain that the social movement archive seeks to rupture the imaginative and material capitalist, political-economic order we inhabit.  The word “archive” in social movement archive is illusive, and will bring up images in your head that are completely not the kind of archive I will be describing. Be open to the image I am drawing in your head as I read to configure the worlds that the social movement archive seeks to build.

In social movements, information is produced by
1) Flyers
2) Signs with messages
3) Banners
4) Rallies composed of speakers who communicate via spoken words amplified through loud speaker systems of mics, speakers, and/or bullhorns.

We could preserve these informational materials as a moment to remember. But would that fix and individualize our understanding of the structure and system of privatization? The corporate university is connected to market based economic value systems. Classes are being configured to support the corporate industry interest through “professionalization” discourse. Student and worker movements organize rallies and other information systems to awaken, or rupture, normalized public consciousness, to challenge this trend of privatization that is intimate to our everyday lives.  They seek to articulate talking points such as “stop regents and chancellors from making these decisions that increase the privatiztion,”  to “stop state funding withdrawal from public education and services,” to “stop politicians and other leaders from supporting prisons rather than public education and schools.” They seek to point how the withdrawal of government public support, and the influx of private industry to be the “default” solution to the government “bankcruptcy” is part of a systemic issue related to the late capitalist transformation occurring at a local to global scale.

So, what are we preserving in these social movement information systems.  To create new spaces for education to not be about money, and enabling the monetization of our thought by assimilating into the professionalization discourse, but for addressing and intervening in this discourse through critical, relevant scholarship and action. We need to use our time and role in universities to deconstruct, challenge, subvert and transform discourse that make environment and social issues monetized and translated into global capitalist order.

From our place in the university, how do we interrogate corporate logic to challenge the capitalist hegemony/meaning making over all forms of life? Physical, consciousness, and informational object? (Popper)

The social movement archive uses 3 elements to challenge capitalist hegemony.

1) Physical reclamation of space. Through Civil Rights Movements and the development of Ethnic studies departments which were created in the 1960s and 70s as a place for counter-institutional knowledge production within the corporate university. These spaces enabled people of colors to write about their histories and cultures from their worldviews, and to support grassroots social movements. This movement was also part of feminist and LGBT movements, larger Civil Rights struggles, to allow historically and culturally disenfranchised peoples to think about their experiences as valid forms of critical, counter-institutional knowledge.

2) Anti-Capitalist Consciousness. As Ethnic Studies, Women Studies, LGBT and other Civil Rights knowledge becomes the study of dominant institutional agents, these movements become studied to understand their weakness, and also places them in a context to commercialize and monetize their intellectual value according to the privatized educational and larger socio-political-economic context.  Thus, the knowledge producers from these disciplines are compelled to “play the dominant game” in order to exist in the material reality of the university job and classroom, as well as, push back on the political-economic boundaries that they encounter on a daily basis, such as IRBs, peer-review journal publishing politics, need to publish or perish, need to get grants in order to be a legitimized professor into tenure-track positions.  In addition, the reduction in state funding balloons the amount of students in one class, but cuts in faculty to teach them, putting more burdens on professors to exist in the university and maintain their value as seeking to push back beyond the capitalist paradigm they are immersed in.  Thus, the anti-capitalist consciousness becomes a personal struggle that requires others to resist what Friere calls the “banking method” of knowledge production. The capitalist struggle that we are immersed in requires us to take responsibility in our own personal transformation, to be agents in rupturing the commodification of knowledge by not seeing our  professors as sources of knowledge, but catalysts for our own understandings and development into what Gramsci calls organic intellectuals. As organic intellectuals, the double/triple consciousness that DuBois, Anzaldua and others name becomes the subjective stance, in which we realize our position within classrooms that are still designed in the colonial form, that we still depend on funding by the state and corporate officials, that we are still living in a material realm dominated by capitalist forces. But, through the realm of ideas, we are seeking to split our consciousness, in order to create space to think about other orders remembering histories of colonial and commercial violence, and articulate scholarship and action in critical relation to colonial and commercial logic, to create a different “third world” that Popper describes. One that seeks to rethink the design of space and knowledge which Foucault describes as discourse.

3) Information Objects -To disseminate this consciousness so that more bodies can be part of this transformation of space.  The dissemination of these ideas that are interrogating the helix of militarism and corporatism requires a careful design of experience, a careful design of information systems that is locally embedded, using tools that are everyday to its inhabitants.   It must rethink the banking method of knowledge, it must rethink the patriarchy and elitism that the written word, and monumental expressions, are the only form of “truth” that we remember and study.  The critique of the banking method of knowledge requires shifting of center/periphery forms of thought, towards ones of diverse nodes and networks that are dynamic and shifting.  Each node and phase transmits useful, contingent, contentious knowledge, to other nodes in whatever phase they are in.

It is this context in which informational objects are produced to strengthen the understanding of this relation, not to fetishize a particular node, or a particular network, as the truth of a particular phase that we must partially remember and monumentalize for future generations.  Thus information objects are shared and transmitted as part of a living system of consciousness raising, empowerment, and its value is embodied, to be forgotten and/or built upon, as part of a critical thinking, living system (Collective Community), aware of violence in the past and the logics of its reproduction in the present.

This social movement archive is a dynamic system that is original and not cookie cutter. But requires embodiment of people to build, rebuild, dissolve this living archival system.  It does not accumulate informational objects, but accumulates the development of organic intellectuals, who become living archives and libraries within themselves.  It is locally adaptive, as those organic intellectuals become nodes that are mobile, traveling to other places, through other networks, transforming discourse in those areas, creating different meanings of the communication infrastructures, and development infrastructures, they inhabit.


-E-R Cachola
October 16, 2010