Collaborative Questions

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2011 at 11:47

•What problem or issue does your collective work address?

For this project, we will be looking at the discourses of OWS and how it 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 the two. How are they self-identifying, and forming an identity, and how is the media doing this as well? By working within and collaborating as a group with different perspectives, it will be interesting to see how different interpretations will occur. This format will help force us away from a normative interpretation of OWS. As part of the project we will 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 surrounding OWS.

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

Our project is an example of a meaningful intervention; in other words, a way for Cultural studies scholars to interpret current events and to formulate knowledge. We can use our analytic skills to look at how identities are being formed, and the discursive practices that are being positioned within OWS, which is something that is resisting definition. Media have had a hard time distilling it down into a soundbite. Some of the questions that we will examine surround the 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?

•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 our collaboration 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. At some point we will open the blog up to the public, and try to promote it more. But for now, we would like to concentrate on making it into something that we feel good about sharing with the public. Because of this, then, the project at this time 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 as coming from an academic perspective so we have to acknowledge the power that we have in our interpretation. We hope that the blog can also be a kind of archive or example of a collaborative 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?

Over the next quarter and coming year, we will use the blog as a platform for examining how our research skills and methodologies can be useful or can be applied to a current event, and how our methodologies could potentially be useful in interpreting movements, communities or media. We see this activity as useful for our own work because identity formation is happening at OWS and we are all studying identity formations to some extent for our capstone projects. We are all interested in questions such as: what are the truisms/common sense that need to be in place in order for certain things to be true? Our own research projects can tie into our OWS blog project by helping us to understand how we can better examine contested meaning at a specific site. OWS a good example, and a good snapshot and scale for what activist scholars can come up with for 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? We hope that by doing this, and using our cultural analysis, we will be more thorough and grounded than journalists can be.

•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?

This project is heavily based on discourse analysis techniques coming from a Foucaultian perspective, yet it is also about hegemony, and who is changing the terms of the debate. Although our analysis for this project is not based on analyzing the political discourse per se, we are informed by the political economic factors surrounding the formation of OWS. A major part of this project could be defined as coming from a communications perspective, as we are looking at how ideas are being communicated, by who, and what this means in terms of power. The media analysis part of our project is coming from this perspective. We see this project as a way to apply what we have learned in MACS to a current event, and to see what happens when we try to bring our critical cultural knowledge outside of the academy.


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