Link to jeanne's Birdie Index Do Not Confuse Colonialism with Racism

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Created: January 24, 2001
Latest update: January 24, 2001
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Do Not Confuse Colonialism with Racism

When this e-mail came in I thought immediately of Gayatra Spivak's admonition (add link to this - it's in Elliott's Contemporary Social Theory) not to confuse racism with colonialism. And I realized that Patricia was expressing my very reactions to that admonition. Here is how that developed in our discourse that morning:

On Wednsesday, January 24, 2001, Patricia Acone wrote:

"While I was reading Minow's Between Vengeance and Forgiveness, especially the sections on trauma and recovery, and the subsequent suggested readings from Minow on differenct forms of therapy, I suddenly saw a light. I think I told you my thoughts on how this gave me insight into what I do that helps students. Well after I told this to you, I thought how can I dare equate what happens to students as a result of the institutional structures with the holocaust and apartheid?

Today I thought: what happens and is happening to our students is called structural violence. Students are becoming objects controlled largely by relatively inflexibe system rules. Paulo Freire clearly admonished us by stating that we must become subjects of our environment: those that act, not objects acted upon.. No, it is not at the level of the holocaust or the apartheid system--yet?"

On Wednesday, January 24, 2001, jeanne responded:

"That's what we were trying to say in Oppression and Revolution (Add an explanatory and access link.). Structural violence is present in any institution which uses vengeance and refuses forgiveness, for the voices and behaviors of the Other are contstrained and dominance is practiced. My point in Oppression and Revolution was that, though the extremes are different in their appearance of horror, the seed of the problem is structural violence as it is practised on the Other, and as the Other practices it in turn. Although I can't stop to think this through in detail just now, I think structural violence in this sense is what Fellman is describing as the seed of adversarialism. Our students are simply the Other in an institution in which dominant authority need not take their voices into account. And that should take us back to Homans' internal and external systems. Each system may exhibit different levels of structural violence and forgiveness.

Pat, I'm delighted to see you following the same paths of thought I did when I was trying to work through that issue on oppression/colonialism.