[-empyre-] Introducing Special Guest Joan Haran -- On Cyborgs and Goddesses: the work of Haraway and Starhawk

Jon McKenzie jvm62 at cornell.edu
Tue Nov 12 02:22:48 AEDT 2019

Thanks for the interesting discussion so far. I am also taken by Whitefeather’s "two-eyed vision” composed of indigenous and Western ways of seeing, and believe such vision is urgently needed for social and environmental justice and for culturally sensitive policy-making.

In my research and teaching of transmedia knowledge, I have connected with the Indigenous Story Studio<https://istorystudio.com/> which creates information comics for indigenous youth in Canada, mixing science and storytelling to address health and social issues. Its founder, Sean Muir (Cree from Peguis First Nation, cc’d here), puts together teams of writers, designers, researchers, and community members to produce the info comics, sometimes using focus groups to fine-tune the two-eyed vision of Western science and traditional medicine and caretaking.

I am also drawn to figuration and what I call “thought-action figures" to displace in theory-practice the divisions between ideas/images, logos/mythos, methods/rituals. The disappearance of tens of thousands of Aboriginal children in Canadian and Australian public schools over the past century shows how lethal these divisions have been.

Figures may be what two-eyed visions actively see and produce: indeed, the cyborg and goddess, as well as the cat’s cradle and even gold mine tailings can all be seen as collective thought-action figures that combine and disperse sometimes incommensurable worlds while emitting urgent calls for action.

Sean’s info comics often generate such figures: in It Takes a Village,<https://istorystudio.com/portfolio-item/maternal-child-health-it-takes-a-village/> Lara is a pregnant teenager torn between wanting to drink beer at a party and taking care of her unborn child: she then has a vision of her grandmother teaching her about traditional medicines while wearing a mask, superhero T-shirt, and cape-like robe—a mashup of Superman and maternal elder who functions as a “SuperGran” of power and knowledge. Research on culturally competent healthcare likewise calls for hospitals to embrace indigenous traditions of childbirth.

Two- and three-eyed figures operate between and across different onto-historical and cultural registers to combine practices traditionally set apart: science and magic, dialectics and mimesis, method and ritual, etc. They tend toward the pharmakological: medicine, poison, undecidable. It’s important to stress that Western science relies on yet usually denies its figurations (eg, tree of knowledge, double helix). Public health agencies, however, often embrace figuration, as seen in the CDC’s Zombie Preparedness campaign<https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/zombie/index.htm>.

I am currently collaborating on a lecture performance based on a female figure of caring and fighting in the age of the Anthropocene: the thought-action figure overlays activist Greta Thunberg, Serbian partisan fighter Sofija Vujanović, and the goddess Artemis/Diana unveiled as physis/Nature in order to explore crises of care of self, community, and world, which correspond to the three ecologies of Felix Guattari.

What role might two-eyed figuration play in a Ruderal Witchcraft Manifesto?

Jon McKenzie

On Nov 10, 2019, at 5:52 PM, joanharan at gmail.com<mailto:joanharan at gmail.com> wrote:

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

Thank you so much for the response.

I'm struck that you mention being confronted by your own naivete as that
seems to be my repeated experience with my current research project in which
I keep discovering I've asked the wrong questions. In many ways I'm
welcoming that and horrified by the lack of humility I had as a younger
scholar but it's a challenge to negotiate within the logics of a soft money

I'm curious about the politics and the pragmatics of bioremediation.
Bioremediation was one of the fascinating topics covered in the Permaculture
Design Certificate curriculum that is core to Starhawk's Earth Activist
Training - which I participated in as part of my research - and I found the
possibilities that I learnt about marvellous, but I know that if I were to
experiment with my own local patch of soil I would want to avail myself of
officially sanctioned 'scientific' testing to benchmark my experimentation.
And what would the ethics of that be? How/Could I trust the black boxing of
soil testing technologies and what economies might I be implicated in in
doing so? Not to mention the suspension of such concerns in order to
navigate daily life.

Thanks for sharing the Mi'kmaq curator/ethnologist's strong words: your
question about whether slow violence asks specifically for slow recovery was
the one that I thought was worth grappling with - cf adrienne maree on
urgency thinking - and your account of the backfiring of the 'capping' of
the tailings sites does suggest that it is a question that it would be
foolish to avoid. But I guess that slow recovery might seem like neglect to
some of those suffering the effects of the slow violence.

The concept of "two-eyed seeing" that you describe seems to address head on
what seems to be a key challenge / resource and I'm thinking now of my
friend Grace Dillon who has done a lot of work on curating indigenous
futurisms as another strand of this work.

The Learning from the Grassroots workshop I participated in yesterday was
heartening - in a similar way to my participation in Earth Activist Training
- as it was an opportunity to meet people who are already using or are open
to using 'imaginary hindsight/ foresight, for what Marisa described as the
possibility "to develop / expand a means of re-valuation that can be tied to
beings-with or of the ruderal? that which may not regard accumulation /
ownership, and instead focus on a care of multispecies others?"' There are
lots of unevennesses / frictions in the meetings but it feels like the
staying with the trouble that many social movements and scholars have done
is being taken up in interesting intergenerational encounters.

empyre forum
empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>

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