Informed Dissent

vaccine

In the ongoing debate about whether or not vaccinations should be mandatory (a debate between so-called “anti-vaxxers” and…well, the people who use that label, the latter of which enjoys majority status to a degree that allows them to forego caricature), the ol’ individual-liberty-versus-public-good rhetoric reared its head really quickly. And perhaps that should come as no surprise. After all, people engaged in the debate are talking about where personal/parental rights stop and the good of the larger public start and vice versa…aren’t they? That’s certainly the nominal subject of the controversy. But “individual liberty” and “public good” certainly live on an ever-sliding scale and are employed by different groups with different politics depending on the context. Continue reading “Informed Dissent”

The Center’s Edge

Picture 1Did you catch this interview, earlier today, with Francesca Marciano, about her new collection of stories, The Other Language? It seems to be all about code switching — at least if we understand code switching as found all across culture.

Give it a listen… Continue reading “The Center’s Edge”

Behind the Scenes: A Conversation on “Code Switching”

keypeele

Back in late June 2013, three members of Culture on the Edge had a conversation on Facebook about the category “code switching” (nicely exemplified in the above Key & Peele skit, featuring Luther, President Obama’s “anger translator” [watch it below]), a conversation that later led to two blog posts on our site, referencing this conversation (here and here) and, ultimately, to Monica Miller conceiving of a workshop at Lehigh University, funded by a Collaborative Research Grant from its The Humanities Center — an opportunity that will involve Lehigh faculty members, James Peterson, Associate Professor of English and Director of Africana Studies, Jackie Krasas, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology and Director of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, along with three of her Edge colleagues: Merinda Simmons, Leslie Dorrough Smith, and Vaia Touna — all of whom work on identity and language, but in very different domains and historical periods.

We hope that the following conversation — spruced up a bit for public consumption — helps to set the stage for some of the early thinking that may be in the background of the workshop, which takes place in April 2014 (more news on that coming soon).

6/29, 4:45pm
Russell McCutcheon
Ok, I have a query: it strikes me that, despite how many use it, “code switching” is a profoundly imperial category, one that perpetuates certain notions of race (when it is applied to studying some instances of African American English), while seemingly only describing them, yet no one realizes it.

What do you think? Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: A Conversation on “Code Switching””

Everyone Loves a Good Christmas Carol, No?

Picture 5Ever wonder how a imperial dominance works? Consider this, admittedly, fun video in which all the objects in the Oxford museum — including the ancient ones! — all know and love Christmas carols. Continue reading “Everyone Loves a Good Christmas Carol, No?”

Selling the Human

googleindiaDid you see Google’s new ad, released not long ago and which is part of their Google India strategy? It’s quite effective. Continue reading “Selling the Human”

You Know You’re a Member of a Dominant Group When…

edgetears…  you not only name your sports teams after the people your ancestors conquered but taunt the opposing high school football team with witty banners referencing events those vanquished peoples’ descendents consider to be terrible catastrophes inflicted upon their groups by your own predecessors. Continue reading “You Know You’re a Member of a Dominant Group When…”

Resistance is Futile

stairsOur Department is located in a late 19th century building that was originally a residence, built in New Orleans style, with balconies, wrought iron railings, and staircases on the exterior of the building. The stairs seem a little steep, so you get a work out going up.

One thing I’ve noticed here, over the past decade or so, is how this particular architecture makes certain gender ideologies evident. Continue reading “Resistance is Futile”

In Other Words…

A little while back, Russell McCutcheon prompted Monica Miller and me to think about the notion of code switching. People use the phrase to refer to everyday modes of discourse that come to be seen or understood as exceptional—specifically the phenomenon of talking or acting in particular ways depending on the group or context that surrounds someone.  He gave us a clip from My Fair Lady as an example.  The story is all about Eliza Doolittle’s (successful, by the accounts of those around her) attempt to become a “lady” rather than—to quote Prof. Higgins’s early assessment—someone “so deliciously low.”  In order to trade her harsh cockney accent for that of a person in high British society, she goes through endless lessons attempting to change her speech, manner of dress, and behavior.  For example, who can forget the famous “rain in Spain” breakthrough? It’s practically on par cinematically with Patty Duke’s spelling out w-a-t-e-r into miracle worker Anne Bancroft’s hand: Continue reading “In Other Words…”