Friday, March 21, 2008

Racism illustrates warped power dynamics

Racism illustrates warped power dynamics
by Patrick Craven

Hi all.. This article was recently published by IOLS research newsletter at UKZN online. Read the article at the following link, and join the discussion at their page/link at the bottom of the on the discussion link and you will be directed to the iols commentary blog. IOLS also encourages writing from students, so if anyones interested in writing an article for publication, let me know.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Creative Inspirations from the course!

Hi. As one of the creative inspirations from the course, and inspired by the movie Crash, one of the students has presented the following poem... Here, I am sharing it with the rest of you! My own inspirations are attached here too... in the form of paintings...The first one is called 's o c i e t y', and is a beaded canvas (i used square plastic beads and chains, and the play of colour and light is of particular interest to me).. and the second one is an oil on canvas, titled 'MultiCULTuralism'.


What is a difference
Something unique and distinct
New and never experienced
opposing what you are used to

A difference is what we strive for
In day to day living
We sweat to bring a difference
A difference in a form of bread for survival

We even long for that special someone
Whom we wish to devot our lives to
To make our lives different
Pleasant and sharable with the other

Perhaps after vows are done
We want to celebrate in a different way
In a different special place
To make it a rememberable one

Race is the difference
A distinction according to colour
Skin colour,eye colour
And perhaps the degree of the streaghtness of the hair

There are two types of dfifference good and bad
Who created diffference
Perhaps God for if it was men
It would imply that man created man

Who decides which difference is good or whichj is bad
Perhaps man satisfying his attitude and beliefs
Why racial prejudice
Historically white to black
post-election black to white or vice verca

Why not see race a a good difference
A difference that is embedded within cultural diversity
And thus race could be adventurous
We unlock the uniqueness and distinctiveness
across racial bounderies

Who created colour and certain connotations related to each
Red for love,pink for feminity
Altimately white for brightness and civilisation
Black for backwardness and damness
As defined by the Western Oxford dictionary

Human beings are not animals or things to be identified by colour
Neither are they objects around our social world
What is being refered to as white is not really white
But perhaps pinkish
What is labelled black may be brownish

Who catergorised human to racial groups
Why not perhaps according weight,or hieght
Why colour when physical features and blood is the same colour
There is but one race,the human race!!!

written by :Nokulunga Khanyisile Mkhize

Friday, March 14, 2008


A movie like CRASH, situates itself around car crashes and the ANGER that is activated by them. Anger manifests itself in various ways. Anger, is the result of deep-rooted fear and hurt. Society tells us that we are 'not good enough'. It suggests that we are 'bad'. How does it do this? By putting us into neat little, controllable boxes. If you are a boy, you must be the best you can be. Play the best sport. Be competitive. Be a good father, son, breadwinner, sportsman, professional,etc. Girls are told early on, that there are certain expected roles and chores. Girls are also terrified of the potential to be stigmatised and labelled as deviant by society. These are internalised. And the deviation brings with it the fear of being seen as 'bad', ie unworthy. Self worth is questioned. This in turn has negative implications for constructions of identity. The pain of inferiority becomes frustration. This in turn becomes anger. Anger has companions. Like prejudice. Conforming to the convenient box that society has labelled for us, makes us feel safe. I may say to you that I am not a racist. But what does this mean? And can that be tested, for example, when I am put under pressure? When anger is activated?
But then, can that be tested, for example, in a matter of life and death?

First, I would like to hear what you think about the movie. How did it make you feel, watching a contemporary depiction of life in LA. And do you think that these examples might relate to our local context? Discuss some of the people or situations in the movie both in terms of how these played out, and how they might have made sense to you. Keep in mind the discussions throughout this course.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Any Questions??!! - Consultation Post!


This is my letter-bOx post. As you know, I have a list of consultation times on my door and as has been mentioned in the blog before. This post is an additional place for comment, question and concerns to be raised. Any questions regards the discursive essay/research, the assessments (also see your course outline) or the exam, can be aired here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Representation and Interpretation: Whose Ugliness/Whose Beauty?

Todays lecture will focus much on our making meaning from discursive signifiers. Symbols of language; symbols of culture. And questions of our subject positions, representation and subsequent forms of interpretation. We need to deconstruct these concepts in the lecture.

In the meantime though, we discussed work being undertaken by a Masters student in Sociology regards attractiveness. For us, the broad question to unpack is:

What is beauty? What do people see as attractive or unattractive?
And what are the forces and influences that shape our interpretations of 'beauty'?

What role does 'culture' play in constructing our perceptions of beauty?
What role does the media play in this shaping?

Question your own assumptions regarding physical attractiveness and how this might link to ways in which we define masculinities and femininities.

Ask, also, if these conceptions are rigid or fluid? Can they be changed? And How?

For those who missed the class assignment, please attempt this now

I already have a list of those who attended the class assignment. However, for those who were not there, please attempt these questions here, as this serves as a reflective part of the diary/research process.

Class Assignment- Socl 301
Thursday 28 February 2008
This course has aimed to make us question our assumptions, and the things that we may take for granted. We have been brought to a point where we understand the imperative to look beyond the ‘obvious’. As sociologists and as individuals, understanding the social world about understandng the ‘self’, and embracing notions of culture and counter-culture becomes like a game of communication; a language, or a framework of discourse within which we act out our roles in the social world. We are just about halfway through this portion of the contemporary theory course. Walking with you on this journey, are two companions: theory, and your data from your interviews. And along the way, you will meet with opportunity to reflect on your own identity, beliefs, assumptions and ways of being. Let us unpack and define how the weekly themes relate and look at where we are going. In order to do this, I have a few questions which you should read over carefully for a few minutes and then jot down your responses. This is a participatory exercise and will allow both you (as students) and me (as the person facilitating the course) to situate where you are in the course and how it might be shaping your process as a budding social scientist. The challenge in this exercise is to make sure that you do not refer to course notes in any way. Remember, we said that this course is about you! Your answers to these questions need to reveal your own thoughts and reflections and not be weighted down by examples or rhetoric we might have discussed/read. You will need to hand in the answers at the end of class. Please put your name and student id number on your answer page.

Here are your ‘thought-provoking’ questions:
1. In the course, you have been tempted and challenged to question your notion of beliefs, and mostly your assumptions. What is your understanding of knowledge? Where does Your knowledge come from?
2. Has this changed in any way, if so, why and what has prompted this change?
3. How do you envisage/visualize your research project for this course? What are you ideas about going about this ‘diary’ project? What have you done so far?
4. In your interviews, what are the most intimidating thoughts, assumptions and experiences? Have these changed/altered in any way, positively or negatively?
5. How would you deal with an interview that turns into something of a ‘counselling’ session? Discuss what you think might be pro’s and cons of such a situation.
6. What do you think are the important features of a good interview? List at least five.
7. What problems have you had in trying to conduct your interviews? How have you tried to solve these?
8. Share some responses/ideas and detail that you may have encountered, or did not expect, and even some concerns (ethical and other) that you might have regards the research/diary project.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Diary Project

Hi everyone

Thursdays assignment was a huge success in my opinion. On the one hand, it highlighted the concerns and issues mulling about in everyones minds, made you think about the project in that defined space of time, and allowed me insight into the next phase of the data collection process. The reason taht I provided a platform for pooling data is, as we discussed, about using local resource in order to make sense of contemporary theory available to us, and create our own ideological stances.

We have only two weeks to the Monday 17 March 2008 when I will take in your draft essays for reviewing. Remember what I said: carry out interviews, transcribe them, go throught the material with colour pens to highlight themes of relevance, look at your choice of essay questions, find readings around these themes (reading pack, articles, journals, media, extra readings in the library/online) and start to put this recipe together.

Cakes are DUE:
Please note that I will only accept essays handed in to me during class, and will return these to you on Thursday 20 March during the last lecture. (For those still not sure of the structure, we have lectures on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) The final essay should be reworked over the study break and handed in on Wednesday 2 April 2008 by 12 noon.