Histories of Violence: Possibilities of Healing
Fall 2017/Spring 2018 Class
(please note this course will no longer be offered after Spring 2018)
Overview: In this time of deep political instability and entrenched inequalities, it is important to study the longer histories of injustice that shape US history, the globe, and our current moment. This 16-week course gives a rich introduction to readings that offer tools to help us analyze and address the crisis upon us and find ways forward into collective empowerment and transformation.
Readings begin with a robust engagement of Black feminist theory's foundational concept of intersectionality. Readings to follow are selected from Indigenous Studies; Chicana Studies; Asian American Studies; Postcolonial Studies; Arab American Studies; and Jewish Cultural Studies.
The goals of the course are to help participants:
1) Reflect on their own identities and lived experiences within systems of inequality.
2) Understand how systems of violence are reproduced in part by our collective dissociation of harm (including the complicity of western systems of education).
3) Recognize who is doing the labor of surviving and changing these abusive systems; the toll that labor takes; and how communities can better distribute that labor (i.e. men need to do the labor of dismantling patriarchy, following women's leadership; white people need to do the labor of dismantling white supremacy, following people of color's leadership; those with Christian-passing privilege in the U.S. need to do the labor of dismantling Antisemitism and Islamophobia, following the leadership of Jews and Muslims ).
4) Be better prepared to be leaders in our sphere of influence on difficult topics like racism, misogyny/patriarchy, homophobia, classism, western colonial histories, and Christian state supremacy (including its perpetration of Islamophobia and Antisemitism).
Participants receive: weekly readings and podcasts to work through the reading material; in-person half day workshops as a cohort; and a combination of monthly small group and individual consulting sessions over Skype. Cohort size is up to 11. Karen O'Connell, a Seattle based psychotherapist, co-faciliates this course, helping participants navigate the change process and traumatic triggers that might occur from the material.
Key Questions of the Course
As we engage the material, we will track closely the following questions:
How can we stay attentive to our own positionality—or how we, ourselves, inhabit these complex systems across our own position of race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, citizenship, religion, and dis/ability?
How can we cultivate contemplative practices, slowing down with this difficult material, in order to expand our capacity for encounter and engagement of the ideas in our course? Our goal is to have moments of holistic, transformational learning and recognition.
How can we take the next step of the healing or change process we feel the material in this course invites us into? Entrenched social inequalities are complex and easy answers aren't possible: we are discussing hundreds of years of intersecting traumas shaping our globe. But, collectively, we can listen for how resistance is possible as we tap into a rigorous study of these systems of violence alongside nurturing our own creative power, rootedness, community, ancestral knowledge, synergy, contemplative attention, and imagination for another world that is possible.
What to Expect
The course will be intense labor: emotionally, intellectually, and creatively. The readings in this course courageously names systems of power and violence—thus helping us have language for grief—but the texts also, simultaneously, help us press into alternative possibilities for more flourishing life together. Together, we will work to develop vibrant and creative imaginations for collective change.