[URBANTH-L]response from Allan Feldman

bvergara at sfsu.edu bvergara at sfsu.edu
Thu May 5 08:36:56 EDT 2005

>From af31 at nyu.edu:

1. You keep on interpreting my response as a dismissal of your work or
career. I have repeatedly stated I am practitioner of action research. I
cited other evaluation methods you did not mention to demonstrate my
participation in this mode of research.

2. Well nothing I pointed out is my invention or qualifies as
deconstruction-- another misapplied term. My observations were much
closer to ideology critique or to the  sociology of knowledge,
(Mannheim, Berger). The diverse critiques of these terms and categories
I rehearsed are circulating out there, but the categories you cite  have
become so reified and so tied to funding-streams, organizational culture
and technical rationality that  theoretical and empirical critiques have
little purchase. However to say this about post-traumatic stress
disorder which has been around since 1916-18 is one thing. But to say it
in reference to a notion like "mass casualty event”, or the current
social science acceptance of the ideologeme "terrorism" is another and
is very disturbing. The diagnostics of drug abuse and the drug-related
incarceration of minority youth has been an issue pursued by many
scholar activists such as Angela Davis and has been questioned by many
medical anthropologists working with harm reduction frameworks, but
again we see the quasi-juridical term accepted without question as
empiricist classification.

I am not suggesting anything qualitatively different then Asad's or
Clifford's historical assessment of ethnographic practice.

4. I have no idea what you or anybody on this list means by
post-modernist it tends to shift its meaning in a very post modernist
fashion! My training was in phenomenology, structuralism Marxism,
cultural Marxism semiotics, social history, oral history,
post-structuralism, (which IS a methodological perspective.), material
culture studies, performance studies and visual culture. Post Modernism
is a periodization in art history, architecture and music; it is also a
vague perception about epochal transition. Most of the traits attributed
to post-modernist theory, persona and values have been in existence
since 1900, particularly in literary genres but also in Art and
philosophy and technology. I do not see how post-modernism as it is
currently being used on this list translates into methodological norms.

>I did not see anything in your critique related to children's
> suffering: their abuse/neglectsuffering: their abuse/neglect
> by addicted parents, gang violence and rape, HIV/AIDS. This is what
> I
> discuss with colleagues
> at the Children's Hospital where I evaluate trauma treatment for
> kids
> trying to survive
> at home, in the streets, and in California's second largest school
> district.

No of course not, worthy and urgent issues all, but that was not the
point of my commentary, unless you claim that there is only one
prescribed mode of researching, classifying and redressing these dire

>And of course, there is no discussion of the Oklahoma City bombing
> or
> 9/11 and their
> impact on kids, and what we have learned about trauma, grief, and
> resilience as
> a result of our work.

Well its is has been pointed out by many commentators that the
Department of Homeland Security is uninterested in domestic American
"terrorism" but again "community resilience" studies in which Homeland
secuirty is very interested  sums up another constellation of normative
sociological assumptions tied to the routinization and normalization of
violence and war. And we have yet to see community resilience studies of
those folks affected by the market place bombings in Baghdad and other
collateral damage episodes.

I think at this point we should take the discussion off-list.



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