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
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