Saturday, June 24, 2006

Here are some of the questions posed to me by Angela Makabali of Harvard U who is writing her senior thesis in Women's Studies and Social Studies:

Where do you see the Fil Am community as fitting into the Asian American community, if at all?

How do you, as a PInay see the connection between the issues that the Fil Am community faces and history of the colonial relationship between teh Phil and the US affect you, as an academic in the field of Asian American Studies, or which ever field you situate your work in?

How does the history between the US and Phil influence how and what you teach, as well as what you research, in the field in which you situate your work? What kind of impact do you hope your work has on that field?

What do you see as your own roles as a PInay scholar and educator?

How have you been treated in academia?

How would you describe the institutional, college, and departmental climates you have experienced?

Can you talk about some memorable experiences you had where your ethnicity, gender, or race has played a role?

What was your first lecture like?

What kinds of values orient the kinds of research questions you ask, the kind of classroom environment you create, the support you provide for students?

How do you conceptualize the relationship between theory and practice, and between academia and activism? Are the two mutually exclusive? Can the two coexist?

How do you negotiate the multiple pressures that an academic faces, including creating "community-relevant knowledge," in however way you define it, publishing, family, etc.

If you are involved in community work, or are an educator outside of the university classroom does that work informs what you teach? if so, how?

How much freedom do you feel educational instutions give you to make the connections between "community work" and the knowledge you produce, and in your teaching in the classroom?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Adding Christina Chun -- one of our Fulbright (study tour to Phil) participants. She will probably our main bloglink to this Fulbright project; I might be too busy being "The Braider" (project director) to have time to blog.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Keys Me....via Sunny. tenkyu!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

There is something gratifying about hearing the readers of your book tell you that they didn't like it because:

"I had a problem with the structure."
"It is too personal."
"There was no resolution."
"There was nothing I could connect with."
"I didn't like the use of "white (men, whiteness, white privilege)"; it felt like an objectification, marginalization of a whole group of people."
"How can you be married to a white man if you are so critical of whiteness?"

And they liked it because:

"You put into words the feelings I've had all my life but couldn't articulate."
"I like the collaboration you did with other writers."
"I like it because it's personal and yet also historical."
"I woke up at 5am one day and started making a list of things I've had to suppress. I am now recovering from cultural amnesia as a result of having read this book."
"I read your poem "FOrgiving History" 50 times because I liked it so much...after I finally got it."

Can you guess which group said what?...If you guessed that the first set of comments were made by white students and the second set of comments were made by students of color, then you are right.

Does one need to apologize for the use of racial markers for white folks when people of color have had to suffer and endure racial marking for centuries of "other-ing" under colonialism and imperialism? Will there ever be a time when our language will be free of racial markers? Perhaps. But we need to understand the resistance of white folks to being racially marked before we can move on.

A lively dialogue ensued following the above as I made the following comments:

* The word "white" has a history within the context of modernity when "race" was first used (around 16th century) to rationalize/justify the colonial conquests of non-white peoples. In the 19th century US, the word "white" served to consolidate and assimilate ethnic European immigrants into one group. As a group, they are able to protect their class interests on the basis of a racialized identity. Given this history, how does the continued denial of whiteness as a racial marker and white privilege as its benefit, perpetuate our inability to see ourselves as each other's KAPWA?

* Consider that the rise of modernity is only a blip in time when we consider the evolution of the universe. Based on scientific cosmology, we now know that the universe came into being 14B years ago and we are the latest species to evolve out of the creative processes of the universe. This species called "human" has been around for about 5M years. Early types evolved into hunter-gatherer societies and about 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers began to farm and domesticate animals. The production of surplus food created the need to protect the supply from being stolen by another tribe. According to the (first religion) Zoroastrian stories, the concept of evil emerged at this time; evil referring to the marauders and thieves who raid groups' food supply. Thus the need to construct a "supreme being" for protection.

* Classical civilizations (e.g. India, China, Persia, Mayan, Inca) came after hunter-gatherer societies and would reign for thousands of years until the emergence of scientific discoveries(Copernicus, Galileo, Newton) altered the cosmological views of ancient peoples. Science would wrestle Spirit out of Nature and begin the period of seeing Nature as an inanimate resource for the benefit of the human species. Elaborate theological constructions would lend credence to this belief. Secular science was used to serve the ideological ends of empire builders that resulted in wars, genocides, and atomic and nuclear bombs. Scientists shuddered at seeing the results of their work being used for these ends.

* The 20th century's scientific discoveries (big bang theory, Einstein, Hubble's telescope, space travel, etc) and technological innovations is now enabling some scientists to develop a reorientation towards a more cosmological view. Thomas Berry, a monk and the father of "ecotheology", began to challenge scientists to write a new creation story that would more accurately locate human beings as a species within this expanding universe.

* If the last 500 years are marked by increasing violence and destruction (most of it human-made)of the Earth's processes and support systems, can human consciousness abate, delay, reverse the course that we're on? Would healing the psychic split in the modern mind help us change how we see each other?

* How should we locate ourselves in this cosmic-scientific story if we have been educated to think of ourselves as members of a nation-state, an ethnic/racial group, a class or caste, or as gendered/sexualized beings? How do we begin to reorient our thinking when we are so deeply imbued with modernity's idea of the superiority of the human variety over all other species? How do we begin to reconcile our deepest longings for wholeness and rootedness and connection to Nature and to One Another with the cultural demand to be otherwise? to be nothing than mere consumers?

* Do the ancient shamans' intimate physical and emotional experience and knowledge of the universe have anything to teach our science-oriented consciousness?

* Too often indigenous peoples are dismissed as remnants of a useless past, in need of civilizing and modernization even as their lands and the mineral and water resources are stolen from them.

* The Filipino babaylan and the organic mystics of the Philippines face the difficult struggle for survival in these modern times. What is our/my responsibility as we/I listen?

Monday, June 05, 2006

I received an email from the editor of the Journal of Asian and Asian American Theology asking me to contribute to their next issue because he heard from someone that I am a Filipino American theologian! I told him that I am not a theologian and my relationship to Christianity has changed radically over the years. I sent him a copy of an online essay and asked him to get back to me if he still wants me to write for the journal after reading the essay. I didn't expect his response but he replied with this:

In the meantime, is it ok for me to share your essay with some of my Korean colleagues? We Koreans in general and church folks in particular need to learn the first step to decolonize ourselve from the 6o years of the US presence in southern part of Korean peinsula. Please let me know.


Friday, June 02, 2006

I was in line today for the first matinee of An Inconvenient Truth. I want all my students to see this so I think I will email the theatre owners to see if they would let students in for free with their student IDs. Please go and see this important film!

Here's Al Gore on the CBS Early Morning Show.

Thanks to Jean for keeping THIS visible!

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