Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This is a response from a friend, a Native scholar at UCR, who watched our youtube ad.

Dear Leny,

The questions you raise are so important and I think that it will resonate with diverse groups of people. I would love to have a conversation with you. Maybe we have to stop thinking about deterritorialized peoples and look at how the land claims and speaks through us no matter where we are and how indigenous worldviews in their particularity point the way to the global longings we have, in this time of ecological destruction and alienation, and atomization.

I was really moved by the video.

One thing that I find myself doing is trying to make the linkage between Western science and indigenous knowledges, but maybe we have to throw that out, too as an epistemological misstep. This is just off the top of my head, but it really pushed me to rebel against the constant talking back that we have to do. My own longing is to think through the affect and intuitive part of knowing. This isn't a new idea, but in terms of decolonization always having to refer to science as the baseline of real knowledge is limiting. Of course, people learn by observation and experimentation, but inspiration through accessing the invisible intangible and re-aligning power through complex semiotics is incredible human work.

Let's have a conversation. I've got this notion about extraction as the model of Western science and how it permeates modern ways of being in very destructive ways. I know indigenous peoples operate from a very different paradigm almost universally. I want to think this through more carefully.

Take care,
My response:

Thank you for this, V. I deeply appreciate the conversation. I did think twice about editing the video to take out the reference to science because I know I will be called on it for the very reasons you mention here. I like the way you put it - 'so tired of the talking back' - and I know that asserting the relevance of the indigenous via the scientific paradigm is a misstep. But I kept it in the end as a conversation starter.

Extraction-- I agree with you on this. Under modernity and capitalism, it has put most of the planet in a trance/spell so that what's needed is nothing short of a shamanic intervention.

My own little piece of intervention is through this conference. By locating the Filipino experience in the diaspora, we are nevertheless called by a deeper longing to belong to the Land. How to define that Land and how to root ourselves in indigenous knowledge and practices and values as "children of the American empire" calls into question all of the empire's fundamental assumptions. That's what I hope anyway.

Still my voice is a tiny minority in the FIl Am community...my/our desire to connect with other native peoples is also a search for solidarity via conversation and possibly collaboration in future projects.

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