Decentering Power, Whiteness, Knowledge, Ableism, Class, Gender, ETC.

Based on Baran’s visualisation of Decentralized, Distributed and Centralized networks (1964, p. 2)

I’m doing some research and creative thinking about how we reconfigure power, for real. In a way that really transforms lives, experiences and relationships. Using visual and sensory devices to keep with the material experience and achievement of change. One strategy is to think through the sticky points and divergences between two transformative projects challenging the centre and the centralised: the Tecnopolitica body of work; and a set of decentering power projects with a strong focus on decentering knowledge and whiteness.

The Tecnopolitica political and research projects around decentralised tecnologies and distributed politics. They have changed and are changing social life very much for real in Spain, and making a splash in the research world too. Very contemporary. Possibly more present in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world. Possibly with a tendency for white, white techy and white techy male spaces. The Baran visualisations of Decentralized, Distributed and Centralized networks (1964, p. 2) are referenced in this body of work.

Decentering power work shows up across a range of spaces, with a strong awareness of race and colonialism. Possibly more in the English speaking world. From an older key text on Decentering Whiteness (Hitchcock and Flint, 1997). To a contemporary set of work around Decentering Knowledge and Decolonizing Research that may be more easily found in contemporary conference descriptions, online articles and debates, than peer-reviewed academic journal articles (Decolonisation in Praxis Symposium, 2018; Moreno Figueroa, 2019; Mwambari, 2019).

I find that only thinking with words can create a disconnection with the work the words really do, and what the words really do, could or should mean in the real world. So, I’m trying to keep that connection with material, sensory and experiential devices and languages. Experimenting on thinking through and between Tecnopolitica decentralisation and intersectional decentering practices, to try and capture the nitty gritty of how we really grapple with power, and work with it like another material we can mould, transform and reconfigure. There is a link here with Donna Haraway’s Vision… her embodied situated knowledge… another thread I’m spinning and haven’t fully connected up with this yet.

This is also pushing me beyond my usual thought patterns. I have to interrogate my own whiteness, my own privilege and so on. This isn’t always straight forward and I have to create new neural pathways and/or tap into experiential, sensory and material understanding to help me find new words, understandings, perceptions and ways through.

I can feel the brain cells self-extinguishing as I’m pushing myself into new spaces. Have to sleep a moment to let my subconscious work I think.

More soon…

Next post is on another strategy… my inner life experiencing both centering and decentering dynamics, with outer world references in orbit.

References

Baran Paul (1964). “On Distributed Communications”, a document prepared for the “United States Air Force Project Rand”, The Rand Corporation, California.

Decolonisation in Praxis Symposium (2018). Symposium organised by the SOAS Research Student Association (RSA) and the SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research (SJPR). SOAS, London. June 2018. Available at: https://www.soas.ac.uk/doctoralschool/news/07jun2018-decolonisation-in-praxis.html

Haraway, Donna (1988). ‘Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective’, Feminist Studies, Vol 14. No. 3 (Autumn 1988), pp. 575-599.

Hitchcock, Jeff and Charley Flint (1997, 2015). Originally published as “Decentering Whiteness. The WHITENESS PAPERS”, No. 1, February 1997. Center for the Study of White American Culture (CSWAC), New Jersey.  2015 Edition available online at: www.euroamerican.org/public/DecenteringWhiteness.pdf

Moreno Figueroa, Monica (2019). “Hearing the voices of women who need to be heard. In April of 2019, the activist, scholar and political icon Angela Davis visited Cambridge for two prominent events: a public conversation with poet and novelist Jackie Kay, and a symposium titled “Pathways to Liberation: Celebrating Black British Feminisms”. Available at:
https://www.sociology.cam.ac.uk/blog/angela-davis
https://www.varsity.co.uk/news/17421

Mwambari, David (2019). “Africa’s next decolonisation battle should be about knowledge. Local researchers whose voices are silenced in the black market of knowledge production need recognition and safety.”
Available at: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/africa-decolonisation-battle-knowledge-190906074211760.html   

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