The Subject as a instrument of change

October 9, 2013
In the book “Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space” Doina Petrescu is looking at  were feminist practices were standing at the time. The mapping of the “contemporary feminist project in architecture” both as materialised and particularly located transformations and as a theoretical formation is a task involving different perspectives. The common approach to architecture among the different collaborators are the “altering” of practise, that is accepting “diffrerens” and using it as a positive ground to stand on to induce change. Change involves subverting the norms that are presented or forced upon you and through this process create new meaning and new identities. A key to understanding and altering is in the concept of the local, “dig where you stand”, kind of perspective. One example that is mentioned in the book is practices that aims at escaping the traditional dichotomy between “thinking and doing” in the production of theory by  highlighting the “embodied” character of practice. Female subjectivity is not a straitjacket to escape from but a way of positioning or situating yourself in a context.  A way of not conforming to the traditional “logic/feeling, culture/nature and male/female” scheme.
As a student of socialantrophology one of the first things you learn is the concept of “cultural-glasses”. As a concept it is easy to comprehend; we all bring our cultural and social heritage with us, whereever we go and whatever we do. Being aware of what your luggage contains of makes it easier to understand your particular outlook/glasses – e.g. what you choose to see and how you interpret it. Only with this in mind can you begin to study the life of other cultures and societies. Unlike students of journalism who from the first day at school are told to be “objective”, in antropholgy it is never implied that you can take off your “cultural-glasses”. When the reseacher after three years of living with and studying that far off indigenous group on Papua New Guinea, stumbles out of the tropical greenary  – his/her glasses has propably underwent some modifications. With the ambitious aim to try understanding the world from the standpoint of the people living in that forest, the researcher comes out with an equally strong understanding of his own culture. Many antrophologists write two books, one is the story of the research “objects” and the other is the book about a transformative private process.
Because as easy as it is to understand the concept of “cultural-glasses” as hard it is to remember that you are wearing them on a day to day bases in close encounters with the “other”. The going back and forth between these different modes of identification is one of the strengths of Socialantrophology.
In the end of the 80′ s new gender based practices and theories was introduced, queer theory were discussed vividly amongst the students at Stockholm University. One example of this was male antrophologists that studied homosexual relations in traditional societies. Another was female researchers living with women in indigenous groups and sheading new light on the power relations in these groups that previously had been studied for decades from a male perspective.
What these practices had in common with the altering practices was the willingness to experience through the particular and the local and to explore the strength of those perspectives.
Döne Heijkenskjöld Delibas

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: