Monday, November 30, 2015

[Yasmin_discussions] next move

Paris 30 November 2015
Dear Roger, 
I Trust all is well, and I thank you for your protean activity in Yasmin and around. Allow me to share a few thoughts with you that I have been chewing over the past few months and in particular after an interesting meeting in la Laboral in Gijon on the occasion of the opening of Materia Prima (
In a nutshell the point is that, after following and participating for a number of years in the discussions in yasmin and many other fora that you know well and animate with great style and generosity, I have developed a few impressions:
One is that the same arguments and ideas are repeated again and again in slightly modified formats, without much condensation, hypothesis testing, synthesis or advancement , in a sense rather perpetuating and enforcing the dichotomy A/S, as opposed to dis-inventing it and working towards a world where creative thinking (and creative thinkers, intellectuals if you want) cooperate and discuss  to address, analyze in an active, astute, critical and intelligent manner the vast, social, political and environmental problems all societies are confronted with today. 
These problems are complicated and are seen differently form different positions in society and in different places in the world. The discussions (ie in Gijon a few weeks ago, etc) give the impression or are based on the shared assumption, that the A/S debate is eternal and universal, grouping all people in two internally homogenous groups: As and Ss, and an external population composed eventually of all non A and non S who are not considered. This configuration makes this environment progressively more autistic to the outside world where As and Ss and everybody else are fighting for their lives in a world progressively more violent, unfair and polluted that is at the same time endowed today with unbelievable competences, tools and power to face  these problems in a cooperative and effective manner or, alternatively to amplify them. 
One line that might help us disentangle this in a logical way is the consideration that the A/S dichotomy has a history and an origin in a given period of time say 17 century and geographical location say Europe, it is there and then that this cognitive structure was put in place, propagated and perpetuated since, in parallel, simultaneously and organically together with the colonial effort and the domination and eventual destruction of any external agent.
The A/S dichotomy is one central element of the us/them dichotomy at the base of hegemonic colonial  domination,  in consequence integrating these elements in a coherent critical analysis might help in moving on to a new set of practices and problems.
I was reading this morning the paper of Koen Vermeir (Historicizing Culture,A Revaluation of Early Modern Science and Culture) a chapter for in a book in press (K. Chemla and Evelyn Fox-Keller (eds) 2016.Cultures without culturalism)  preparing for a seminar at SAW ( next Thursday under the title Rethinking Practices and Cultures in the history of science, I thought the paper was quite consistent with the argument above and might be useful to work on it, and it contains a number of interesting references that might help us in working out operative proposals. I think you will find it interesting
All the best, cordiallyr

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