Meg Wiessner Annotations

What insights did you gain from this artifact?

Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 3:52pm

For Gabriel & Efe:

I'm responding to both of you because each of your responses to question 6 (overarching generalizations vs. holding back?) struck me.  I spend a lot of time handwringing about this, as I hint at in my response about wishing I was more willing to go out on a limb and make bold claims. I'm more at home with complexity but sometimes wonder why I'm doing the research at all, or whether I shouldn't focus on something more straigthforward (and more dull?) but more important and easier to make clear claims about. It often feels to me as if there's an inverse relationship between how morally transparent a phenomena is and how "interesting" it is as a research project, which troubles me.  Of course, I suspect that this is just a bad habit of thinking I need to unlearn. As I'm trying to get out of this way of thinking, it's at least helpful to get a sense in these responses that other people might face these questions. 

Efe I'm glad you included that Tsing quote, becuase she is someone I admire tremendously for her ability to hold onto what's at stake - violence, commodification, power - while diving straight into the complexity. I aspire to that kind of "everything is complicated, but also...this. we need to care about this." approach.  At the same time, I know others who find this approch still too ambiguous and thus morally questionable. I suppose you just can't please everyone - another impluse I'm trying to unlearn. 

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How does this relate to your own research interests?

Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 3:15pm

Aaron this is a really interesting list -  But limiting myself, I wanted to ask specifically about Chinese Medicine imports and commerce. I have a sort of side interest (semi-academic, semi-personal) in the politics of "alternative medicine" in the U.S. Lots to say there about appropriation, privilege, visibility, and supply chains. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on how any of the products and medical practices you study are framed and positioned by different actors in relation to other healing systems like Ayurveda, Homeopathy, or North American herbalisms (which can be quite syncretic), or even the idea of being an "alternative" itself. 

(and a P.S.- thank you for your comments! To respond provisionally, I'm not sure if I see an overarching telos myself, but what I'm interested in might actually be that many practioners seem to, and that this has been a big part of their work. Although different telological frameworks seem to rise and fall over time, there are some common themes of being future-oriented, speculative, and utopian/dystopian. The last question about producing a new chronology in tracking these over time is an excellent one I'll have to think more about...) 

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What questions or elaborations do you have about this artifact?

Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 2:06pm

Hi Angela, reading these was great. I share an interest in the question of research ethics. In addition to the concerns and questions you named, I also think about how the ideas of extraction and the role of temporality.  Personally, time pressure and the peculiar activity cycles of academia sometimes prevent me from engaging in the sort of relationship-building that I think more ethical research probably calls for. I sometimes experience an inability to follow up, to engage in deep feedback processes, or even just to reach out to check in and say hello when faced with never-ending deadlines and jumps from one pool of funding to another, or one location to another. I wanted to ask if you have thoughts on structural ways academia could promote "slower" research, and whether you think that might impact some of the questions about representation, fatigue, and equity?  

(And, just noting that I also share an interest in imaginaries around embodied forms of expertise, although in my case, it's thinking about style and the performance of cosmopolitanism in design, art, and academia. Would love to hear more of your thoughts!)

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