Notes: David Sibley, “Mapping the Pure and the Defiled” in Geographies of Exclusion

Sibley, David. (1995). Mapping the pure and the defiled. in Geographies of exclusion. New York: Routledge, 49-71.

Summary:

Sibley traces how geographies are constructed which mark persons and places as defiled and thus othered.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Cultural Studies, Space, Place, Class

Quotations:

“In constructing these geographies, the imagery… is drawn on to characterize both people and places, reflecting the desire of those who feel threatened to distance themselves from defiled people and defiled places. Thus, values associated with conformity or authoritarianism are expressed in maps which relegate others to places distant from the locales of the dominant majority” (49).

“[T]here are enduring images of ‘other’ people and ‘other’ places which are combined in the construction of geographies of belonging and exclusion, from the global to the local” (69).

Notes: Ann Cvetkovich, “Reflections: Memoir as Public Feelings Research Method” in Depression: A Public Feeling

Cvetkovich, Ann. (2012). Reflections: Memoir as public feelings research method. in Depression: A public feeling. Durham: Duke University Press.

Summary:

Cvetkovich details memoir as a research method and positions this within academic and therapeutic culture.

Keywords: Depression, Culture, Cultural Studies, Affect, Feminist Rhetorics, Queer, Memoir, Research Methods

Quotations:

“Memoir has been an undeniable force in queer subcultures, where it has been an entry point into the literary public sphere for working-class writers, the backbone of solo performance, and a mainstay for small presses” (74).

“Exemplifying deconstructive principles, academic memoir can expose the material conditions and subject positions that underlie intellectual production” (75).

“The memoir tries to be honest about the ways that activism can sometimes stall out in the routines of daily life, rather than offering revolution as the prescription for change… It suggests that when asking big questions about what gives meaning to our lives, or how art and politics can promote social justice or save the planet, ordinary routines can be a resource” (80).

“The memoir also functions as a research method because it reveals the places where feeling and lived experience collide with academic training and critique” (80).

“Personal narrative can be a forum for the places where ordinary feelings and abstract thinking don’t line up. The impasses of depression and writer’s block can live in those interstices, and alternative forms of writing can spring them loose as foundations for innovative thought” (82).

Notes: Gloria Anzaldúa, “La herencia de Coatlicue” in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Anzaldúa, Gloria (1987). “La herencia de Coatlicue.” In Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

Summary:

Anzaldúa discusses her psyche’s coping and crossings of/between separations of self and the collective power over the self of each inner self.

Keywords: Culture, Cultural Rhetorics, De/Postcolonial

Quotations:

“There are many defense strategies that the self uses to escape the agony of inadequacy and I have used all of them. I have split from and disowned those parts of myself that others rejected. I have used rage to drive others away and to insulate myself against exposure. I have reciprocated contempt for those who have roused shame in me. I have internalized rage and contempt, one part of the self (the accusatory, persecutory, judgmental) using defense strategies against another part of the self (the object of contempt)” (45).

“The soul uses everything to further its own making” (46).

“Every increment of consciousness, every step forward is a travesía, a crossing. I am again an alien in new territory…. Knowledge makes me more aware, it makes me more conscious. “Knowing” is painful because after “it” happens I can’t stay in the same place and be comfortable. I am no longer the person I was before” (48).

Notes: Gloria Anzaldúa, “Entering the Serpent,” in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Anzaldúa, Gloria (1987). “Entering the Serpent.” In Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

Summary:

Anzaldúa discusses means by which colonization imposes duality on her culture’s psyche.

Keywords: Culture, Cultural Rhetorics, De/Postcolonial

Quotations:

“I know things older than Freud, older than gender. She—that’s how I think of la Víbora, Snake Woman. Like the ancient Olmecs, I know the Earth is a coiled Serpent” (26).

“I allowed white rationality to tell me that the existence of the “other world” was mere pagan superstition. I accepted their reality, the “official” reality of the rational, reasoning mode which is connected with external reality, the upper world, and is considered the most developed consciousness—the consciousness of duality” (37).

“In trying to become “objective,” Western culture made “objects” of things and people when it distanced itself from them, thereby losing “touch” with them. This dichotomy is the root of all violence” (37).

La facultad is the capacity to see in surface phenomena the meaning of deeper realities, to see the deep structure below the surface. It is an instant “sensing,” a quick perception arrived at without conscious reasoning. It is an acute awareness mediated by the part of the psyche that does not speak, that communicates in images and symbols which are the faces of feelings, that is, behind which feelings reside/hide” (38).

“Fear develops the proximity sense aspects of la facultad. But there is a deeper sensing that is another aspect of this faculty. It is anything that breaks into one’s everyday mode of perception, that causes a break in one’s defenses and resistance, anything that takes one from one’s habitual grounding, causes the depths to open up, causes a shift in perception. This shift in perception deepens the way we see concrete objects and people; the senses become so acute and piercing that we can see through things, view events in depth, a piercing that reaches the underworld (the realm of the soul). As we plunge vertically, the break, with its accompanying new seeing, makes us pay attention to the soul, and we are thus carried into awareness—an experiencing of soul (Self)” (39).

“We lose something in this mode of initiation, something is taken from us: our innocence, our unknowing ways, our safe and easy ignorance” (39).

Notes: Gloria Anzaldúa, “Movimientos de rebeldía y las culturas que traicionan” in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Anzaldúa, Gloria (1987). “Movimientos de rebeldía y las culturas que traicionan.” In Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

Summary:

Anzaldúa writes gets at defining culture and the limitations imposed on the self.

Keywords: Cultural Rhetorics, Culture, Decolonial/Postcolonial, Queer, Feminist Rhetorics, Minority Rhetorics, Critical Race Theory

Quotes:

“There is a rebel in me—the Shadow-Beast. It is a part of me that refuses to take orders from outside authorities. It refuses to take orders from my conscious will, it threatens the sovereignty of my rulership. It is that part of me that hates constraints of any kind, even those self-imposed. At the least hint of limitations on my time or space by others, it kicks out with both feet. Bolts” (16).

“Culture forms our beliefs. We perceive the version of reality that it communicates. Dominant paradigms, predefined concepts that exist as unquestionable, unchangeable, are transmitted to us through culture” (16).

“Deviance is whatever is condemned by the community. Most societies try to get rid of their deviants…. The queer are the mirror reflecting the heterosexual tribe’s fear: being different, being other and therefore lesser, therefore sub-human, inhuman, non-human” (18).

“The world is not a safe place to live in…. The ability to respond is what is meant by responsibility, yet our cultures take away our ability to act—shackle us in the name of protection” (20-21).

Notes: William Sayers, “The Etymology of Queer”

Sayers, William. “The Etymology of Queer.” ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews, vol. 18, Heldref, Philadelphia, 2005..doi:10.3200/ANQQ.18.2.17-19.

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Summary:

Sayers offers a brief etymology of queer in its Irish origins to introduce queer theory to cultural studies.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Etymology, Linguistics, Cultural Studies

Quotations:

“Etymology does not, of course, determine future meaning(s) or dictate historical development. Yet it does offer not only a point of departure on this route but also certain first conditions, which may be variously socioeconomic, related to judgmental issues, register, affective value, and so on” (16).

“‘Queer theory’ is now well established both as a phrase and an analytical methodology in cultural studies, as evidenced by entries in recent dictionaries of an companions to criticism, postmodern studies, and so on. This theory in turn guides explorations of authors such as Wilde, Joyce, O’Brien, and Beckett, thus bringing queer full round to its Irish origins which were, we recall, as ‘crooked, awry, circular.'”

Notes: Ann Cvetkovich, “Introduction,” in Depression: A Public Feeling

Cvetkovich, Ann. “Introduction,” in Depression: A Public Feeling. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012.

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Summary:

Cvetkovich lays out a queer, feminist look at cultural studies with depression, in an effort to depathologize depression in a way that offers broader public critique.

Keywords: Depression, Culture, Cultural Studies, Affect, Feminism, Queer, Queer Theory, Memoir

Sources:

Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

Eng, David, Judith Halberstam, and José Muñoz, eds. “What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?” Special issue of Social Text 84/85 (2005).

Quotations:

“How can we, as intellectuals and activists, acknowledge our own political disappointments and failures in a way that can be enabling? Where might hope be possible?” (1).

“Depression… is thus a way to describe neoliberalism and globalization, or the current state of political economy, in affective terms” (11).

“The forms of productivity demanded by the academic sphere of the professional managerial class can tell us something more general about corporate cultures that demand deliverables and measurable outcomes and that say you are only as good as what you produce” (19).

“[C]reativity can be thought of as a form of movement, movement that maneuvers the mind inside or around an impasse, even if that movement sometimes seems backward or like a form of retreat. Spatialized in this way, creativity can describe forms of agency that take the form of literal movement and are thus more e-motional or sensational or tactile” (21).

Questions, Reflection, Response:

This has been a moving read for me personally and professionally. As someone who suffers with depression and PTSD, I’ve been looking for someone to talk about depression in terms of culture and affect and was frustrated at my inability to locate such texts.

I always deal with symptoms during the summer months. I’ve talked with my mentors about the fantasy of summer and letting yourself grip with the reality that these moments may not be what you originally intended.

But the move I find extremely interesting is the move of the public, the political depression. That’s something I’ve contended with personally and collectively. It was certainly timely for me to read this too. Thinking in terms of the Orlando shootings, the cultural depression and trauma experienced around this is immense.

How can this depression be a moment of productive potential?