Week 1: Sept 14 Discussion Board

Please feel free to continue our dialogue from Week 1 of The Political Ecology of Witch/craft and Andi Grace’s essay here.

One thought on “Week 1: Sept 14 Discussion Board

  1. Billie_L says:

    Greetings from Hawaiʻi. For those of you I haven’t had the pleasure to meet yet, my name is Billie and I’m looking forward to joining the autumn session with all of you and getting to know everyone. I hail from Queens, New York and have been living in Hawaiʻi for the last six years where Anjali and I crossed paths. Currently, I am a PhD student in American Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and I am about to embark on a dissertation project that seeks to look at the ways women of color and Indigenous artists and educators imagine and put into practice a politics of possibility. In this regard, I hope to include the amazing work of Liberation Spring in the mapping of this emerging project. So if you would please indulge me by reading what I’ve jotted down below, I would love to take this opportunity to state some of my intentions and to introduce this project to you as I would be honored for you to be a part of it. ☺

    From my conversations with Anjali and as a guest participant in the final gathering of ‘Just Pleasure’ where I met many of you a few weeks ago, I felt that what was being co-created within LS was special and an example that many could benefit from—a dissertation blessing. I would love to have this opportunity to research and write about LS as an intentional community-based educational framework. The larger scope of my project (that is still in its embryonic stages) looks at manifestos, art projects, and various educational programs as a set of practices that seek to collectively unlearn and undo oppressive ways of thinking/feeling/being while embodying new possibilities to imagine otherwise. I am also looking to the beautiful work of Simone Leigh around Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter and an Indigenous Arts MFA program at The Longhouse Education and Cultural Center to name a few. This project stems from on my own experiences, struggles, and desires as a settler/immigrant/diasporic woman of color artist and educator as well as being inspired by amazing folks that I have met along the way (historically and contemporaneously) who are deep in this work.

    I wish my project to be as undisruptive to LS as possible. I will be participating in LS not only as a participant but also as a participant observer. What this might look like is that sometimes, I will just be participating and not wearing my “research” hat. Other times, I may take notes to analyze my observations of LS. At some point, I may ask to interview some of you on your experiences of the program. The general purpose of this methodology is to learn how members of a community make sense of their own community and its relationship with other people, communities and institutions. This is also my first ethnography so I will be figuring all of this out as I move through it.

    If you are willing, I will ask you to sign a consent form (to opt-in or out) around November 1st. Until then, my research will not officially begin and I will not use any information from our sessions in my research. Of course, your participation is completely voluntary and no explanation for your preference to opt-out is necessary. You can also decide to withdraw from the study at any time where I will not use any of my observations involving you and anything that you have said in my research. Pseudonyms will be used to maintain your confidentiality unless you prefer that I use your legal name. All of my notes and recordings will be stored in a safe place.

    I would be honored if you would consent to participate in my research. I am also all about reciprocity, so I invite your suggestions for ways that I may contribute to LS as well as your individual projects as we get to know each other better. I invite any questions or concerns you may have about any of this as things unfold. Please come to me or Anjali at any time. I’ll certainly mention all of this again, but I just wanted to give you all a heads up before we started. I look forward to meeting you all soon,


    p.s.: Just a quick footnote about my positionality as an academic: I am a first generation U.S.-college graduate in my family and first to pursue a doctorate. Academic labor is not a given for me, but an ongoing negotiation, struggle, as well as privilege. This research project is both funded through piecemealed small grants and good-old survivor low-budget finance tactics. Academic labor by folks of color is complex and deeply rooted in struggle and opposition. I want to honor this history, but I also strongly desire to be nourished by and to nourish others through the affective dimensions of this work. I hope that my work as an academic can contribute to this in some small way.

    My academic background in case you’re interested:
    Billie Lee is a PhD student in American Student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa via an arts practice which includes painting, video, and a documentary film project, Moving Home, that premiered at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival in 2012. Prior to joining the American Studies program at UH Mānoa, she taught drawing and design at the University of New Haven and worked as an arts educator at the Yale University Art Gallery, the Queens Museum, as well as in various public schools and libraries throughout New York City. Her focus as an educator was on developing and implementing programs for immigrant/communities of color. Lee’s proposed dissertation project extends her interest in community-centered pedagogy in marginalized communities by examining interventions by women of color and Indigenous artists and educators in creating a politics of possibility. Drawing on women of color feminism, queer affect theory, Indigenous politics, and diaspora theory, Lee expands on the ways that the social is imbued with legacies of historical trauma and collective knowing that can open up affective spaces of belonging through meaning-making practices. She received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Yale University, and her recent reflections on race and critical discourse in MFA education can be found in “On Performing the Critical” in the forthcoming anthology Beyond Critique: Contemporary Art in Theory, Practice, and Instruction (Bloomsbury, 2017). If not on her moped, she can be found snug in her seventy-five square foot residence where she is an East West Center Student Affiliate or at the American Quarterly office where she is currently a staff member.

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