Monthly Archives: June 2015

#CLMOOC the deconstructed introduction

The first suggestion from the #CLMOOC folks arrived today:

So, what’s the first thing you usually do when you enter a room of folks with some familiar and unfamiliar faces—you introduce yourself, right? So let’s unravel “the introduction” to dive into the Connected Learning principle of equity. The theme this week is Unmaking Introductions. Let’s consider the ways we name, present, and represent ourselves and the boundaries or memberships those introductions create. How do we name ourselves in different contexts—personally? professionally? online? What happens when those contexts converge? How might we take apart our introductions to answer some of these questions? What will happen when we put them back together again to share them in CLMOOC?

. . .

Sarah Ahmed writes:

Let’s take the example of hospitality. There is a relation of host to guest. The host not only was already here, or here before, but the “here” belongs to the host…To accept the invitation you go along with this coming along. Such an ordinary invitation: one could accept it or not. But in being welcomed the “you” is positioned as not part of the “us,” or should we say not yet part. What does it mean, what does it do, for the participation of some to be dependent on an invitation made by others?

So what’s interesting about this is the foray I am part of making with some folks from #rhizo15 into the idea of hospitality as understood by Derrida:

As Derrida makes explicit, there is a more existential example of this tension, in that the notion of hospitality requires one to be the ‘master’ of the house, country or nation (and hence controlling). His point is relatively simple here; to be hospitable, it is first necessary that one must have the power to host. Hospitality hence makes claims to property ownership and it also partakes in the desire to establish a form of self-identity. Secondly, there is the further point that in order to be hospitable, the host must also have some kind of control over the people who are being hosted. This is because if the guests take over a house through force, then the host is no longer being hospitable towards them precisely because they are no longer in control of the situation.

I have been thinking of this a lot in some other work I’ve been doing around the idea of segregation – that we cannot understand “inclusion” until we accept that there has been a history of constructed otherness that continues in many forms, more subtle and less overt, but there.

Like the idea of “community,” to which it is the central tenet, “hospitality” turns out to be more than one might have expected and, again, so does “introduction” – a thing we expect and suggest and depend on without consideration…   As we break down these ideas of how we belong and gather and meet each other, we quite quickly begin to see why Derrida uses hospitality as an example of an impossibility to consider.

I often think of the various ways the Buddha’s hands are poised to heal, hold, beckon – always accepting, never judgemental.  Hospitality.  And then of this, from the Tao te Ching, and particularly this Ursula LeGuin translation:

Verse 8: Flow Like Water

Verse Eight
True goodness
is like water.
Water’s good
for everything.
It doesn’t compete.

It goes right
to the low loathsome places,
and so finds the way.

For a house,
the good thing is level ground.
In thinking,
depth is good.
The good of giving is magnanimity;
of speaking, honesty;
of government, order.
The good of work is skill,
and of action, timing.

No competition,
so no blame.

I look forward to meeting other folks from #CLMOOC 🙂
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