Unintelligible Silence

Challenging Academic Authority in a New Socio-dialogic Politics of the Real for Collective Justice and Transformation

  • Katherine E. Entigar The Graduate Center, CUNY
Keywords: academic authority, absence as presence, decolonizing, imagination, intelligibility, politics of reality, silence, Western-centric rationalism

Abstract

What is silence? Is it a loss, an omission? Is it a stopping of the mouth, of the voice? An empty place where no meaning has come forward…or perhaps at times quite the opposite, an absence-as-presence  Deleuze, 1990; Derrida, 1976)? Might silence evoke much more about what we assume is our monological, unitary reality, indexing possibilities yet unseen? This paper outlines the ways in which silence is typically understood according to scholarly orthodoxy: as omission in human communication or a silencing of minoritized individuals or communities by those in power. It then moves to critique the preeminence of whitestream (Grande, 2003) Western-centric academic authority, which self-perpetuates via the exclusion of outsider ways of doing, being and knowing such as those brought forward by silence, constituting a loss of meaning and knowledge from the social imaginary. This paper suggests that the pursuit of an articulate unknowing (Zembylas, 2005) regarding silence as a creative, disruptive force beyond the control of rationality is a means of engaging with radical possibilities for a different, juster world. It proposes a socio-diologic politics of the real that welcomes silence as an unsettling of our current thinking about what is and will be possible, as well as who does and does not matter. It concludes by illustrating the ingenious force of silence in examples of subversive art that expose the hegemonizing, rational(ized) version of reality sold by academics and powerholders, bringing forward into the imagination what prospects for change, justice, and social transformation yet await. 

References

Anzaldúa, G. (1999). Borderlands = La frontera (2nd ed..) [251 pages ; 22 cm.]. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.
Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays (1st ed..) [Xxiii, 177 p. ; 24 cm.]. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Bhatia, S. (2017). Decolonizing Moves: Beyond Eurocentric Culture, Narrative, and Identity. In Decolonizing Psychology: Globalization, Social Justice, and Indian Youth Identities. Oxford University Press.
Cage, J. (1952). 4’33”. [Recorded by D. Tudor]. Woodstock, NY.
Cas, P. (Director). (2016). The Manifest of Pasha Cas “This Is Silence” [Video file]. Kazakhstan. Retrieved April 08, 2019, from https://youtu.be/JRHqB_sjhII
Corn, D. [DavidCornDC] (2018, March 24) Loudest silence in the history of US social protest. [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/DavidCornDC/status/977620341026672640
Deleuze, G. (1990). Plato and the Simulacrum. In Lester M Stivale (Trans.), The logic of sense. New York: Columbia University Press.
Delpit, L. D. (1988). The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children. Harvard Educational Review, 58(3), 280–298.
Derrida, J. (1976). Of Grammatology (G. Spivak, trans.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
De Sousa Santos, B. (2007). Beyond Abyssal Thinking: From Global Lines to Ecologies of Knowledges. Review (Fernand Braudel Center), 30(1), 45–89.
Dyussembekova, Z. (2016, July 11). Kazakh Street Artist Draws Attention to Social and Environmental Issues. Retrieved August 2, 2019, from The Astana Times website: https://astanatimes.com/2016/07/kazakh-street-artist-draws-attention-to-social-and-environmental-issues/
Foley, F. (2005). Witnessing to Silence [Bronze, steel]. Brisbane Magistrates Court, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Foucault, M. (1970). The order of things: An archaeology of the human sciences, trans. Sheridan A (London: Tavistock).
Foucault, M. (1972). The archaeology of knowledge and the discourse on language. New York, N.Y: Pantheon Books.
Freire, P. (2018). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. (Original work published 1968)
Fricker, M. (2007). Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford University Press.
Fricker, M. (2008). Forum on Miranda FRICKER’s Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Theoria, 61, 69–71.
Fricker, M. (2012). Silence and Institutional Prejudice. In S. L. Crasnow & A. M. Superson (Eds.), Out from the Shadows: Analytical Feminist Contributions to Traditional Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
Fricker, M. (2013). Epistemic justice as a condition of political freedom? Synthese, 190, 1317–1332.
Go, J. (2017). Decolonizing Sociology: Epistemic Inequality and Sociological Thought. Social Problems, 64(2), 194–199.
Grande, S. (2003). Whitestream feminism and the colonialist project: A review of contemporary feminist pedagogy and praxis. Educational Theory, 53(3), 329–346.
Grzanka, P. R. (2016). Queer survey research and the ontological dimensions of heterosexism. Women’s Studies Quarterly, 44(3), 131–149.
Huxley, A. (1931). The rest is silence. Music at Night and Other Essays.
Kirkland, D. E., & Kirkland, D. E. (2013). A search past silence : the literacy of young Black men [Xv, 187 pages ; 24 cm.]. New York: Teachers College Press.
Krashen, S. (1995). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Hemel Hempstead, Herts: Prentice Hall International.
Lather, P. (2006). Paradigm proliferation as a good thing to think with: teaching research in education as a wild profusion. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education: QSE, 19(1), 35–57.
Le Guin, U. K. (2012). The left hand of darkness. Hachette UK.
Levey, T. G. (2018). Sexual harassment online : shaming and silencing women in the digital age [Vii, 216 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm]. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
London, B., Downey, G., Romero-Canyas, R., Rattan, A., & Tyson, D. (2012). Gender-based rejection sensitivity and academic self-silencing in women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(5), 961–979.
Massumi, B. (1987). REALER THAN REAL: The Simulacrum According to Deleuze and Guattari. Retrieved from https://www.brianmassumi.com/textes/REALER%20THAN%20REAL.pdf
Merleau-Ponty, M. (2007). Merleau-Ponty Reader (T. Toadvine & L. Lawlor, Eds.). Northwestern University Press.
Mignolo, W. D. (2007). Coloniality of power and de-colonial thinking. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 21(2-3), 155–167.
Mignolo, W. D. (2009). Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and Decolonial Freedom. Theory, Culture & Society, 26(7-8), 159–181.
Nadler, C. (2015). Deterritorializing Disciplinarity: Toward an Immanent Pedagogy. Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, 15(2), 145–152.
Quijano, A. (2000). Coloniality of Power and Eurocentrism in Latin America. International Sociology: Journal of the International Sociological Association, 15(2), 215–232.
SDGmusic. (2011, July 18). James MacMillan on the necessity of silence. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRumhoDqy2c
Savransky, M. (2017). A Decolonial Imagination: Sociology, Anthropology and the Politics of Reality. Sociology, 51(1), 11–26.
Scheurich, J. J., & Young, M. D. (1997). Coloring Epistemologies: Are Our Research Epistemologies Racially Biased? Educational Researcher , 26(4), 4–16.
Spivak, G. C. (1988). Can the Subaltern Speak? In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (pp. 271–313).
Stetsenko, A. (2017). The transformative mind : expanding Vygotsky’s approach to development and education [Xi, 421 pages ; 24 cm.]. New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Towns, A. J., & Adams, P. J. (2016). “I Didn’t Know Whether I Was Right or Wrong or Just Bewildered”: Ambiguity, Responsibility, and Silencing Women’s Talk of Men's Domestic Violence. Violence against Women, 22(4), 496–520.
Whiffen, V. E., Foot, M. L., & Thompson, J. M. (2007). Self-silencing mediates the link between marital conflict and depression. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24(6), 993–1006.
Yancy, G. (2017). On Race: 34 Conversations in a Time of Crisis. Oxford University Press.
Zembylas, M. (2005). A Pedagogy of Unknowing: Witnessing Unknowability in Teaching and Learning. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 24(2), 139–160.
Published
2020-04-23
How to Cite
Entigar, K. (2020). Unintelligible Silence. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 21(1), 06-18. Retrieved from https://tidsskrift.dk/outlines/article/view/116621
Section
Articles