Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

The Others in the Keynote #OER17

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is gonna be a quick one….been thinking about it for quite some time now and it is twofold.

I do a lot of my good thinking and writing alone. Or what appears to be alone, but I do most of my best thinking, writing and activism with others. That’s particularly true of any of my work on openness, because…. 

  1. Some of my best articles and book chapters critiquing openness were co-authored with Shyam Sharma 
  2. The self as OER idea is one I worked with Suzan Koseoglu on, and one where the people who embody that provided the role models upon which to develop our idea
  3. Virtually Connecting of course originated as a pair effort, but grew tremendously because of a growing team of people who believe in its value and volunteer to not only make it happen how it was originally conceived, but make it better over time

None of that stuff is directly attributable to me alone. Nor can I ignore all of that work and its relevance to the politics of open, the theme of OER17

The second part of this relates to thought leaders who influence my own thinking about open.

I had a (probably-gonna-fail) notion of making every attempt not to quote any white folks in my keynote. That’s not that hard if you intentionally prioritize reading people of color over white people – it’s just that all my life I have been bombarded by the white Western view of everything – but once I put my head to it, there’s so much of value by people like Tressie and sava and Sherri and Rusul and Annemarie and Chris G and many more. Then I would of course see something really relevant from someone awesome like Kate or Audrey or Frances or Catherine or Autumm or Laura C or Laura G or Laura R or Rebecca or Britni or whoever and I would say, ok white women not men. Then Paul Prinsloo would write something phenomenal and I would say, ok white men who aren’t straight and not from the West. Then someone from Hybrid Pedagogy.. Then Mike or Alan or David or that Weller…. And I give up. I do. It’s not their fault their white men. They make really good points sometimes, and I tell you that Martin Weller makes it really hard for me to talk about open without alluding to his thinking or writing. Will not read Martin’s book. Will not read Martin’s book. Will not…

Recently, someone (AK?) mentioned a goal of citing only (exclusively) open access articles in his dissertation, which I believe his university wouldn’t accept, because of course there are some canonical texts in subscription based journals. I remember asking him to check if this action would indeed be making a difference to his goal? I suspect it may not be necessary even though it is noble. And even though I have huge reservations about canons, I understand his university. 

It made me think again about the quoting non-white ppl/men goal. I think having that goal made me more conscious of reading non-white-males more often and citing/amplifying them more often. I think I will probably have many more quotes from non-white-males than I would have had if I hadn’t consciously made this initial pledge to myself. I think my consciousness is changed by getting more used to reading different people and reading people differently. I think the direction of my thinking is different because of it.

I don’t think I will cite exclusively non-white-males in my keynote, but I think that failure to meet my pledge won’t be a complete failure to meet my overarching goal 

And if I get stuck, I could always cite my intersectional self 😉

2 Comments

  1. In my graduate classes at the University of Minnesota we used to talk about the “white privilege” in US schools a lot. In one discussion I mentioned how I didn’t feel “white”, I just couldn’t relate the discussions much because I didn’t share the same history and culture with my American colleagues. A Chinese collague was very surprised to hear that because in her eyes, well, I was just white. She asked me a few times what I meant, I tried to explain that it was a cultural thing, not sure if she got it at the end. 🙂 So I would avoid making generalizations, whiteness isn’t something you can judge by the apperance (in this case the geographic location and color).

    • I know what you mean, I think. Whiteness (or any privilege) is highly contextual. Being relatively fair-skinned or dark-skinned in an Egyptian context has completely different connotations than in Europe and even more different in America. Or South Africa, for example. Being Turkish in Germany (Muslim immigrant who may or may not be fluent in German) is different than being Turkish in Turkey (norm) or Egypt (privileged ex-colonizer who intermarried a lot). Also, lots of really cool white ppl are less privileged because of socioeconomic class background (and that’s invisible to us if they become academics unless they’re adjunct). Being a woman w kids is a privilege in some contexts and a disadvantage in many others

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