Special Thanks To

There are many people who have made these books and this specific paper possible. This is a list of some of these wonderfully creative organic intellectuals who have influenced my thinking/ activism/ writing on this theme: Ken Belford, Julia Emberly, Cathy Denby, Karen Thistle, Judith Lapadat, Kate Tilleczek, Jacqueline Baldwin, Glen Schmidt, Marianne Gosztonyi Ainley, Tamar Eylon, Dina Ripsman Eylon, Soni B., Dawn Hemingway, Kwong-leung Tang, Rob Budde, Catherine Baylis, Andrew Burton, Chuck Fraser, Vicky Bryant, Paulette Dahl, Louise Lane, Melanie Marttila, Carole Trepanier, Barry Wong, David Mah, Melanie Robitaille, Julie LeBreton, Teena Lacoste, Roxana Ng, Kathleen Adams. It has been my privilege to work with them and I hope to continue doing so. Some portions of this paper are present in a ‘sister paper’ which will be published in Auto/biography in Canada (2004) from Wilfred Laurier Press. Edited by Dr. Julie Rak from the University of Alberta.

See: P. Brooker, (1999) A Concise Dictionary of Cultural Theory. London: Oxford University Press.

See also the 2002 tentatively proposed: “Constitution of the Association for Cultural Studies” at http://www.tampereconference.fi/crossroads/constitution.htm

When I use the word ‘healing’ in this paper I mean ‘healing’ in it’s widest ways. We live in a capitalist patriarchal racist homophobic.... multiply oppressive world and the need for ‘healing’ exists in all of us. I’ve often said to people that I am more concerned about those who never reach out for ‘therapy’ than those who are always in therapy.

This paper links to a paper presented at the 2002 Bridget Moran Conference at the University of Northern British Columbia which celebrated Moran’s writing of five books; her work as a cultural studies oriented social worker, her creative social activism. I thank the participants for their contributions to my ongoing thinking on these themes.

The people referred to in this discussion who were involved in the previous five books and/or who will be involved in the upcoming two books reside in: Toronto, Vancouver, Prince George, Sudbury, Nova Scotia. We are ongoingly open to new participants from everywhere and anywhere!

Social work might be defined as my ‘mother discipline’ in that it is the one that has given me a pay cheque for the last ten years or so. There are many mother disciplines that I feel an affinity with. For the purposes of this paper I want to say that I infer social workers aren’t so connected to the scholars from cultural studies and that makes my conversations around this topic gawky. I infer there’s a disconnect between these two bodies of scholarship and activism because my research assistant emailed all of the schools of social work in Canada on my behalf and asked if any of the professors used CS in their courses and would they be interested in dialoging about this topic and only four responded with a ‘yes’. All four of them made reference to teaching anti-racist courses/ being Aboriginal/ and/or they had program titles that suggested they came from this kind of a location (i.e. “Saskatchewan Indian Federate College’, etc.). Also, I emailed Dr. Laurence Grossberg (who could be defined as one of the central thinkers in CS and asked if he knew of any social workers or anyone engaging with social workers who used CS. His answer was no. Further, for more than 6 months I have been on the CS listserve and I have never seen the words ‘social worker’ in any of the hundreds of comments and calls for papers. At this time my personal library has about a hundred books which could be identified with CS and none of them have the words ‘social worker’ in their lists of contents or their key word index. I’m amazed at how these two disciplines have been living in parallel worlds but not intersecting with each other. Many social workers are familiar with some of the central speakers in CS but don’t seem to identify these authors as falling into this ‘gang’ of thinkers (for example, bell hooks is a Cultural Studies scholar and many social workers use her books to guide their practice; many social work professors use her books in their courses).

There are different ways to consider the “return”: actual cash from book sales; entrance fees from events (i.e. a portion of door sales); or speaking fees that were given because of the book serving as an ‘informercial’ for the poet’s/writer’s talents. Some of us have found that job interviews or community support have been facilitated by our books. Two community activist contributors where specifically told that the book was a significant aspect of a hiring committee’s decision to give them the positions over other qualified candidates. Some of us donate the books to non-profit organizations (for door prizes; gifts to clients; etc.). Some of us find a worthwhileness in giving them to all our friends, co-workers, and relatives for years into the future as gifts.

The majority of people involved have been women. This has been largely because those are the circles I travel in and because, as seen in the discussion below, the writings initially grew out of healing circles that I was involved in as a therapist/ community activist. For the sake of simplicity I will use the female pronoun throughout most of this paper.

Of course, Smith Tuhiwai is speaking specifically about First Nations/ Maori peoples and their dynamics but so much of the wisdom about patterns of oppression are relevant to other contexts (class issues, gender issues, etc.). I value her wisdom and believe she would feel comfortable with the way I am connecting to her discussions and insights.

Giroux, Shumway, Smith, Sosnoski (2001) and Hall (1993) take up a discussion of the ‘resisting organic intellectual’. These are advocates for/ allies with the oppressed who position themselves in the space between the streets and academia; the concrete/material and the abstract analysis - and hold the tension of the two locations with the intention of informing both locations and bringing about social change that enhances the lives of vulnerable populations.

I am defining these conversations as ‘new’ although CS has been an evolving conversation for over two decades in England and the US. My sense is that it is a new conversation in Canadian Social Work schools - I infer this because I have been unable to find any courses or books that have the words ‘Cultural Studies’ and ‘Social Work’ in the same title or sentence.

While reconceptualizing and reconstructing our worlds (interior and exterior) language that has been Ivory tower male-centered and male-created often doesn’t serve us. The word jump has come to me – and I’m using it here in a transitionary temporary experimental way -- because it expresses the vibrant spontaneous energy of robust girls playing double skip rope while bright summer sun shines on us. We jumped into and out of the center of the ropes while other girls took turns at the ends spinning the ropes. Those in the location of spinning; those girls watching; and those jumping were always changing positions in a minute to minute way. This was playful, healthy, accessible (i.e. working-class girls could afford a rope), and shared activity. I like the image of us now as adults vibrantly jumping in and out of places that we want to experience and center our view from within.

The author of this email has became involved as one of the primary authors and activists with another book. I thank him for his vigor, affirmations, and tenacity.

All the participants who had an email address that I could find

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