Monday, October 25, 2010

My thoughts on the readings

During the last few weeks, we have had some time to reflect on our own feminist methods. In this paper I would like to look at a few texts and talk about my own position to my work. After getting back from an Internet Researchers conference in Sweden, I feel like I have more tools and drive to apply to research. However, at the same time, I realize that there were not many feminist perspectives at the conference. It seems that, especially with new media, there is a lack of looking at texts from a feminist, race, or gendered perspective. I could count on my hand how many presentations actually addressed these issues. Now, with a conference center full of scholars who are at the top of their game, what does this say about the progression of feminist methods? I imagine that many are using feminist methods in their own research, even if they don’t acknowledge it, but why are these issues more at the forefront. It made me also question my own position in all of this. Am I doing enough to address some of these major issues that people are not talking about? At a google panel, one person brought up the fact that while google may be creating the perfect search results, it is only doing it for some people. When the person googled for beautiful black women, all that came up in the search was porn. The panelist seemed like they were really interested in this point of view, but you could tell that they hadn’t thought about it that way, that google caters more toward a white male audience. What does this say about the state of intersectionality in scholarship? I know that there are others who are doing this type of research, like our own teacher and scholars like Nakagawa, but what about these other perspectives? My own goal is to use the tools we are learning in class and better my own work. Here, I will turn to the last two readings (the ones I presented on) and talk about what I can pull pieces of them into my own work.

“Bringing Old and Young People Together: An Interview Project” by Laurie Lathem, at first glance, seems to be a project that may not be applicable outside of this specific contexts. However, the more I have relflected on it, the more I realize that perhaps the general idea of this project can be used in many different circumstances. She argues that people need to get out into the field and actually interact with those in their own community. I consider myself to be a part of the activist community and I too believe that we need to study nonprofits in order to better understand them and help them reach their goals. Also, she believes that one should involve the participant not only in the process but the final product. Now, I kind of question how much participation the old people had in the plays themselves, but the idea is a fine one. We need to somehow get our participants to be involved with the final project, whether it is a paper or even a presentation. For me this is a bit more complicated. I am interested in looking at the Medical Foundation, so the participants are both the nonprofit workers and the survivors of torture. Should I be talking to both of these groups? If I only talk to one am I missing out on the other? Can I do justice to either? I think it is really important to somehow include the people you study in your work because it changes the work itself. Also, something that is missing from Lathem’s work it what happened after the shows were done. Did the young people have any role in the old person’s life? Should we keep our connections to those that we study? I wouldn’t want to simply study the Medical Foundation and then just disappear and never interact with them again. I do appreciate that Lathem argues for a model where you don’t write down everything you hear, that you have to try and listen instead of simply recording. I believe that we often get too worried about what we can do with the information after the interview than the actual interview itself. Here, I want to switch focus from praxis to theory and epistemological issues. I think these obviously are important parts of the same whole.

“Subjects, Power, and Knowledge: Description and Prescription in Feminist Philosophies of Science” By Helen E. Longino is a really interesting piece that argues for looking at science as a practice and examining how different models of theory can work together. Now, this is obviously a critique of the ways in which science has been conducted in a patriarchical system, but it also can work in my own research. She argues for being able to use different models concurrently rather than arguing for a system in which only one paradigm can be universal. If everything is subjective, then there can be numerous perspectives. This is important to my project, because I will be using many different perspectives on the internet and nonprofit organizations. Also, she argues that we must be willing to move past certain theories when they are no longer useful. I really like this organic and fluid way of understanding theory. We always argue that culture is constantly changing and yet we cannot move past certain older paradigms because theory seems to be something that always sticks around. It may be part of the game of academia because we are sometimes forced to use theory that we don’t want to. I think for my own project this is helpful in that I need to find applicable theory that relates to the internet and nonprofits. If there isn’t a lot of theory that is that specific I will need to create hybrid area where I bring different theories together to work with newer material. I also need to really keep in mind the issue of class, race and gender in my work. I think it sometimes is too easy for me to do simply because I think I have enough to deal with in terms of torture itself. However, I need to focus on the story in which my boss told me to find pictures of white people being tortured. That is my main driving force in making a better overall project. Obviously, this is not the only reason, but I think it helps me to have a center point to work from.