Copyright © 1998 International Development Options
All Rights Reserved
Volume One Winter 1997-Spring 1998 Numbers 1-2.
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
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Published online: December 15, 2016
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.