Featured Slack Posts

Unit One – Professor Robb

Professor Robb mentioned in the chat that a photo can be true if it corresponds to facts, but aren’t all photos full of facts if they aren’t touched up? What makes a photo non-factual?

Returning to these questions a semester later, I can’t help but think about Professor Tamura’s teachings on the body being an archive. In this case, our mind can serve as an archive for memorized photos. These memories are susceptible to change as each time we retrieve them, they distort. As a result, the photo memorized no longer matches reality and is thus non-factual.

Originally posted on August 20, 2020.

Unit Two – Professor Green

In “Notes From The Field,” Anna Deavere Smith juxtaposes a tribal judge and a high school student concern specialist. Introducing the opinion of the tribal judge first, she conveys that the root problem underlying the school prison pipeline issue is the system’s lack of empathy. Whenever a person acts out problematically or inappropriately, the system typically pushes that person away via punishment – detention, suspicion, expelled, arrest, etc. Providing an example, she states that an eight-year-old boy was almost hand-cuffed once; the handcuffs both physically and symbolically separates the kid from everybody else. Instead, she argues that the system should care about why the kid acted in such manner and resolve that issue. In effect, in order to reduce the number of bad habits a person takes, one should talk to the person, hear them and counsel them rather than hoping harsh punishment will deter them from repeating the offense. The tribal judge character closes with the opinion that the blame falls upon the failed system and the people within a position of power who sat idle and as the system turned into what it is now.

In contrast, the high school student concern specialist assigns blame to the kids themselves. The character posits that within society, authority is critical for a system (an idea that the tribal judge doesn’t dispute as she also believes that laws are crucial for a society to function properly). However, kids often get in trouble – detention, suspicion, arrestment – when they verbally challenge authority. Because kids have control over what they say, their actions are their own fault, and not the system’s.

This play highlights how the body can be used as vehicle for social change. Ann Deavere Smith had to use her body to bring to life these characters whom are real people in her documentary theater on the school to prison pipeline. Doing so allowed the audience to hear these character’s opinions as holding substance and thus alert awareness and social justice.

Originally posted October 22, 2020.

Unit Three – Professor Fache

Human dignity is having control over one’s body and actions, while also having such decisions respected by others. It is the value of an individual and their individuality. Everybody is born with it, but many may not die with it as people may attempt to strip them of it. Saartjie Baartman is one individual who lost her dignity to others. Being forced to display her body and self in a savage manner, she was constantly animalized by Hendrick Cezar and the predominantly white audience. Starting in an animal cage, Saartjie is introduced to the audience on a leash, forced to go on all fours while audience members ride her and touch/pinch/bite/slap her butt – all things she detests and argues against. However, her voice isn’t heard nor respected. Cezar has control of her body and actions rather than Saartjie, resulting in her losing her human dignity. 

An important aspect of human dignity revolves around who possesses power. During the nineteenth century, the majority of the power resided in white males due to the social hierarchy of the time. As mentioned in “Displaying Sara Baartman, the ‘Hottentot Venus,” scientists at the time believed a link between Apes and African tribe members existed, supporting such claims through research that only coincided with such beliefs (234). As a result, despite the abolishment of slavery, whites were assigned a higher social position with more power over others. Cezar, being a white male, was able to have control over Saartjie’s body and actions through this reasoning. Additionally, when a person can buy another person, the buyer is inadvertently proclaiming themselves to be positioned higher in the social hierarchy and thus having more power. Cezar used this to further strip Saartjie of her human dignity.

Lastly, a final aspect of human dignity is that it is stored in the body. Although not tangible, the body’s container function bestowed by its vessel definition, see the Body Definition tab for more details, allows it to store a person’s human dignity.

Originally posted September 27, 2020.

Unit Four – Professor Tamura