Gossip as a strategy of forming subject

December 4, 2013

We are all, it could be claimed, victims of time/space withdrawal because of the dehuminazing aspects of technology and the way it alters the very construction of subjectivity. But some of us more than others. The nomadic subject is a specially alienated one, displaced in both time and place by forces governed by capitalistic logic. In fact this displacement is many times the result of an actual loss of geographical place and time. If a cultur or a social group can be equalled to a type of “ecology”, the disruption of this system is both on a systemic level- as group culture forever changing and on a personal level – as a loss of “subjectivity”. I am thinking of immigrants and specially women, hœusewifes coming from traditional societies as a reference example. The loss of the original group as a supportsystem, as a reference, as a history that now has to be rewritten and the new life were the role of housewife has to be reinvented in a new social context, is a situation of “becoming”. The harshness of this “becoming” in the face of being labeled as the “other” is hard to understand unless one is willing to see both to what is lost, on all levels and what is permitted in the eyes of the dominant culture. In the feminist litterature, we read about how the concept of “becoming”  both can redefine the phalocentric perspectives on thechnology and nature as immobile and timeless in their character and also as a way of navigating towards a subject. The need to develope the diversity and complexity that is called for in the texts, are not only because diversity is beatiful, but because it is a way of not becoming totalized to economic rules, says Conley. Storytelling is at the heart of the strategy to establish a relation to both time and place. One traditional way of telling the personal story of who you are and establishing your position in society is through gossip. Gossip is an important part of the retelling, reinventing and establishing the important bonds in a community. It is both a way of getting information and a way of  participating in the interpretation of that information. But for gossip “to work” in a positive sence it needs a strong community, a sence of “us”. Maybe one could claim that one way of understanding if women regard themselves as strong subjects in a new society, is to look at how strong the culture of “gossip” is.
This differs from the concept of resingularisation as a way of reaching the subject. But could it be claimed that by allowing gossip to florish, by creating physical places were women can meet and gossip, it could become a way of creating a personal history in the context of a group history?
I miss this perspective in the texts at hand. The context in which the “stories” could be told, the context were technology stops working against us and works for us ( on a subject level) is as I understand it depending on the willingness of shifting position and embracing less hostile laguages and positions to our bodies and nature. But I am curious to how these contexts are created ouside the acamemic world.

Döne Delibas


2 Responses to “Gossip as a strategy of forming subject”

  1. Katla Maríudóttir Says:

    I am reminded of an essay that I just read in another course, by Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich called “Thinking: An Introductory Essay,” where she talks about ‘thinking’ as a theoretical fieldwork.

    And I think this is an interesting concept. To my understanding, ‘thinking’ here means ‘thinking with’ – that is discussions between different people. Not only as a way of thinking out loud but also, but also listening attentively – as a way of seeing any given topic differently, from the perspective of others. But more importantly, thinking as a fieldwork allows thinking freely, of course not completely without consequences, but at least, with less risk.

    One could say that gossiping therefor can be one of those methods, since it allows just that, to think freely, without the seriousness that theory-as-we-know-it usually has. In that sense, it is a kind of ‘flirting,’ in a similar way that Gavin Butt talks about in his essay “Scholarly Flirtations”.

  2. Jordan Lane Says:

    I am interested in what defines some words as “gossip” and what is required to turn this “gossip” into identity, identity to narrative and narrative into culture?

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