BCULST 510

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Participant Observer Field Notes

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2011 at 20:26

Participant Observer Field notes from Occupy Seattle at Westlake Center, October 23, 2011. as observed by shana and ken, with a few links to audio clips.

There are about four or five small groups gathered in huddles that seem to be occupied with some specific tasks or conversations.

Text heavy environment. “We are the 99%”; several Occupy Seattle designs on garments; some directional/protocol signs; “Contribute to the Coffee and nicotine station.”

One group is busy making signs on cardboard. I didn’t think to write down any of what they said. Bad me.

Use of the “people’s microphone” to announce that we are looking for 8 people for an occupation tonight who would be willing to be arrested.

In addition to the sign-making group, there is a People of Color Caucus against Racism; Spirituality/Peaceful Living; Sustainability; Internet and Communications; White Anti-Racist Caucus

The police seem to be taking a relaxed posture, both strategically and literally. They have hands in pockets, talking to each other in small groups of three or four, drink coffee, answer questions posed by passers by. Click for audio commentary.

There are not many un-occupied places to sit down.

Wide range of ages. Many people apparently over the age of 50. Many under the age of 30. 70-80% Male. A few queer coded emblems are in evidence.

A Native man in his 30’s introduces himself to me as “Chief.” He traveled to Seattle from New York with his girlfriend, who ditched him. He was down at the waterfront and was told that there was good coffee for free up here. He said he really didn’t know what was going on.

Some languages other than English being spoken by people in the occupied zone.

Shana and I are approached and asked if we would be able to help with the General Assembly tonight, as the people who point to hand-raisers and get them “on stack”.

I observed at least three instances of yuppie/suburbanite/tourist looking folks stopping to pose and have their picture taken with the occupation as a backdrop.

I witness a young (early20’s) white man who would fit the media description of an Occupy Seattleite (NW beard and ‘stach, bike and velo gear, tats) angrily walking away from the encampment saying “I fucking hate the poor.” It is unclear if he was part of the encampment. A young man tells him “hey you forgot your bike” and hands a bike over to the angry guy.

Are the Tallers (workshops) spontaneous? RE: No, they are announced via People’s Mic

Some intergenerational disagreement on strategies and compliance with police orders. Click here for audio notes.

According to the orientation for the General Assembly (announced by Peoples Mic), debate and processing about issues is done in the small groups we saw earlier and the groups report back to the General Assembly. Click here to listen to part of the orientation delivered by Peoples Mic.

During the Assembly, the police are at the opposite end of the plaza. The Assembly does not seem policed.

I don’t participate in the People’s Mic during General Assembly. I wonder how my experience would be different if I did. Greater sense of connection/collectivity? Mutual tasking? Voicing with your own mouth even things that you disagree with? Hearing things you do agree with voiced in concert?

Questions: rough draft, please comment/edit

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2011 at 01:09

•What problem or issue does your collective work address?

Looking at the discourses of how OWS is being defined. Media is the most dominant form of representation of OWS, and we wanted to find out what kinds of discourses were being done at the site, and compare. How are they self-identifing, and forming an identity, and how is the media doing this as well? By working within a group with different perspectives, it will be interesting to see how different interpretations will occur. This is forcing us to not be normative, in a way. We also have to articulate what premises are necessary in order to accept an interpretation as “true.” What kinds of “common-sense” are at play? Working collaboratively, we will be more likely to recognize these tendencies within ourselves and the discourses.

•How can your collective work intervene in, upend, rewrite, or transform that problem?

This is a way for Cultural studies scholars to interpret current events. We can use our analysis to look at how identities are being formed, and the discursive practices that are being positioned within OWS, something that is resisting definition. Media have had a hard time distilling it down into a soundbite. A branding exersize is happening by political parties, media, and OWS itself. Is there a resistance to this? How might we contrast these things? Has the movement become mainstream? How has it changed over time? People are discomforted with a lack of “clear message” within the mainstream. Why?

•What other people, institutions, and organizations would you like to bring into your collaborative project? How will you invite them into your project?

OWS is leaderless, so we cannot invite them in. The question for us, is more how are we part of the organization, and how can cultural studies workers contribute to the organization. We have invited ourselves into the organization and the space, as participants and observers. We are also learning to collaborate among ourselves, as people with different political perspectives. Could we get other perspectives, or link blogs with people? Get opinions from different parts of the movement, not just Seattle? Other cities? Unions?

•Who are the intended audiences for your collaborative work? How are you going to build those audiences?

We are making a blog, and the audience, for now is between our collaborators. For now, the project is focused on troubling, finding sites of meaning, and questions. As a long term project, the site could potentially be developed into a place where a wider public, or cultural studies people or OWS can also contribute to this discussion. We are positioned, however in academia, so we have to acknowedge the power that we have in our interpretation. It can also be a kind of archive of an exercise that could contribute to learning about collaboration.

•Provide an agenda of collaborative work over the next year (and beyond if you are so inclined). How might this project intersect with your work and interests after you complete graduate school?

Examining how our research skills and methodologies can be useful/applied to a current event, and how our methodologies could potentially be useful in interpreting movements or communities or media. Useful for our work because identity formation is happening at OWS, are they a bunch of hippies…etc. What are the truisms/common sense that need to be in place in order for certain things to be true? What needs to be true in order for them to be “loyal Americans” or “”. Our own research projects can tie into it by looking at contested meaning at a specific site. OWS a good example, and a good snapshot scale/ what can we come up with in a quick analysis of a current event. This is important because the media cycle is so quick, and academics may be asked what they think: as public scholars. How can we intervene in the current discourse that is being formed? Trying to be more thourough and grounded than journalists.

•How does your research and work as a MACS student inform the tactics of your collaboration? How does your cultural studies theory/methods influence your practice?

Discourse: Foucault
Hegemonic: about changing the terms of debate (also discursive)
Political Economic
Communications: can we look at how things are being communicated? (hand signals, etc.)
Media analysis

•Provide references and additional resources.

Nation Waiting For Protesters To Clearly Articulate Demands Before Ignoring Them | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2011 at 03:31

Nation Waiting For Protesters To Clearly Articulate Demands Before Ignoring Them | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.

Occupy The Hood Aims To Draw People Of Color To Occupy Wall Street

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2011 at 03:29

Occupy The Hood Aims To Draw People Of Color To Occupy Wall Street.

Questions to think about for posting comments

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2011 at 02:41

How is OWS self-identifying, and forming an identity, and how is the media doing this as well? A branding exercise is happening by political parties, media, and OWS itself. Is there a resistance to this? How might we contrast these things? Has the movement become mainstream? How has it changed over time? People are discomforted with a lack of “clear message” within the mainstream. Why?

US cops tried to erase online evidence of brutality — RT

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2011 at 00:17

US cops tried to erase onnline evidence of brutality — RT.

Guernica / Barbara Ehrenreich: Homeless in America

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2011 at 00:15

Guernica / Barbara Ehrenreich: Homeless in America.

Guernica / Jillian Steinhauer: In Defense of Youth Activism and the “Like” Button

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2011 at 00:14

Guernica / Jillian Steinhauer: In Defense of Youth Activism and the “Like” Button.

Occupy Oakland: Iraq war veteran in critical condition after police clashes | World news | guardian.co.uk

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2011 at 00:12

Occupy Oakland: Iraq war veteran in critical condition after police clashes | World news | guardian.co.uk.

Intense crackdown on ‘Occupy Oakland’ protest – Americas – Al Jazeera English

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2011 at 00:08

Intense crackdown on ‘Occupy Oakland’ protest – Americas – Al Jazeera English.