Intellectual Circles, Authenticity, Legibility, and Working Class Roots by Chris Ash

IMG_0754In my other writing for Feminism and Religion, I’ve discussed how a key focus of my spiritual path involves dancing within the tension of opposites, finding ways to move mindfully and freely inside the orbit of sacred circularities in which every curve leads into and out of its inverse, with infinite shades in between. Two areas of my life in which this tension has informed my lived experience are socioeconomic class and education. I’m only two generations away from factory workers and electricians, and three generations removed from a long line of poor farmers. Both of my grandparents on my mom’s side – with whom I lived as a child and whose influence on my life is felt every day – dropped out of school to work on their families’ farms.

And yet I was the little nerd in the gifted program, in two grades at once, through most of my childhood, even as my parents worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. By the time I left for college, I’d worked hard to rid myself of my Southern accent, not wanting to be flagged as uneducated or backwoods.

Whatever the markers for “poor” or working class in any given region – accent or dress or dialect – they frequently are coded as less intelligent. The impacts of these assumptions are felt early, as children from low-income or minority families are often overlooked for and underrepresented in gifted education programs, and the impacts are later reflected in graduation rates and college attendance statistics by demographic. Even as colleges work to provide opportunities for lower-income kids to attend, the dialogue typically focuses on how access to a specific, Western model of education can raise up underprivileged kids, and not on how getting smart kids from a diversity of backgrounds into the university system can expand the very boundaries of how a field understands itself and the framework within which it conducts its research. Continue reading “Intellectual Circles, Authenticity, Legibility, and Working Class Roots by Chris Ash”

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, But Obedient Ones are Rewarded in Heaven: An Examination of the Re-Invention of the Bengali Tradition of Sati By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History is a book authored by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.  This has become a well-known phrase used by most feminists to imply a meaning of disobedience or stance against the patriarchal structure of society.  Often in error, the credit of the invention of this phrase is attributed Eleanor Roosevelt and Marilyn Monroe.  Their image, and especially the image of Monroe, will often appear with the slogan on merchandise as a means of marketing and raising revenue.  Ironically, reinvention or reuse is prevalent in history when it comes to tradition or ritual for the same reason – monetary gain.  This practice is common and the benefit of reinventing or reinterpreting an old tradition is an automatic connection to the past giving continuity, which, according to Eric Hobsbaum, instills strong “binding social practice,” (p. 10) including loyalty and duty in the members of the group.  This is especially effective in manipulating the poor and uneducated who usually display strict obedience and blind acceptance of tradition. The Bengali reinvented tradition of satî is an example of this. Continue reading “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, But Obedient Ones are Rewarded in Heaven: An Examination of the Re-Invention of the Bengali Tradition of Sati By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

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