Subtleties of the discourses

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2011 at 14:52

This is a portion of an article from the NYT as quoted on MSN about sanitation and public health at the OWS site at Zucotti Park in NYC. In it a doctor comments on transmission of disease in the encampment:

Although condoms are often available on-site, Dr. Tierno said the protest’s evolution to private tents, from sleeping out in the open, had raised the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The site’s pounding drum circles, he added, could lead to hearing damage. He compared conditions at Zuccotti Park to those in a hajj — the pilgrimage to Mecca, in which whole groups of people have come down with respiratory infections in a short time — and those experienced by the flower children of the 1960s, when, he said, communal living situations created problems with sanitation and sexually transmitted diseases.

This is such a great illustration of how discourse draws upon other discourses to be effective. An expert is quoted, thereby giving the words authority, which are used to project other discourses on to OWS. Promiscuity is inferred with the mention of the need for condoms and of the increased risk of STDs, thus linking the OWS discourse to negative discourses around sexual morality. Drum circles invoke discourses of tribalism and Western association of the drum to “primitive” culture, lack of civilization, and lack of control. Referencing the Hajj draws in discourse of Muslim and the lovely associations that the West has constructed onto that identity. Flower children inject discourses of vapid hippie-dom an being outside of mainstream society. Each of these discourses have been deployed, consciously or not, to position OWS outside of acceptable discourses of civility and “normal.” Other less marked discourses could have been referenced in order to illustrate  the effects of people living in close proximity. For example, cruise ships or conventions (such as the American Legion convention that led to “Legionnaire’s Disease”) could have been used instead of referencing the Hajj, and refugee camps could have been used instead of references to communes and flower children.

Link to article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45260520/ns/health-health_care/#.Tr2kOlaK9M4


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