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                                                                            Copyright © 1998 International Development Options

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Volume One                                                                         Winter 1997-Spring 1998                                                          Numbers 1-2.

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     STRUGGLING WITH A STRUCTURE: ENGEN­DERING AGENCY ACROSS DISCUR­SIVE BOUNDARIES

 

    Generally speaking, intelligence and imagination become premium modalities of functional existence to a people who are

    tradition­ally perceive as hewers of wood, drawers of water and mere statistical units in the production process.

    Rex Nettleford, Inward Stretch Outward Reach

 

    Glyne A. Griffith

    Department of English

    Bucknell University

    Lewisburg, PA 17837

    Published online: December 15, 2016

 

 

     ABSTRACT

 

This essay is an argument against those structures of knowing in the humanities and social sciences which partici­pate fundamentally in a binarist metaphysics generally, and in binar­ist ontologies specifical­ly. I have begun the essay with an epigraph taken from Rex Nettleford's Inward Stretch Outward Reach because Nettleford's observation is instruc­tive, and it raises some of the issues which I seek to address here.  If, as Nettlef­ord sug­gests, the "wretched of the earth" seek to impose intelli­gence and imagination on repre­sentations of themselves as mere units of labor, then such "premium modalities of func­tional existence" are unlikely to be narrated as meaningful ontological strategies by hege­monic discourses.  In addition, such modalities of existence will tend toward subterfuge and subversion, and will therefore be subject to marginalization by dominant strategies of knowing.  The intelligence of these statistical units of labor and these "voiceless" subalterns is highly likely to invest in ways of existing and knowing that undermine and resist estab­lished boundaries, norms, and limits.  Such disenfranchised imagination often challenges discursive and disciplinary efforts to repre­sent knowledge and truth as resident within the discrete borders of disciplines, accessible only through the discursive gateway of binary oppos­itions.  Intellectually sensitive analyses of such intelligence and imagination thus demand disciplinary and epistemological border crossings which explore the conceptual terrain between putative borders and polarities rather than survey the land­scape of knowledge demar­cated by binarist deeds of possession and consequent dispossession.  Such discursive border crossings can be facilitated by poststr­ucturalist analyses.

 

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