Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Processes of Emergence and Connection: Interrelations of Past, Present, and Future in Journeying for Conocimiento

Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Processes of Emergence and Connection: Interrelations of Past, Present, and Future in Journeying for Conocimiento

Article excerpt

Anzaldua's work offers so many points of entry, both professional and personal. I was initially drawn to considering my academic work of teaching and scholarship, particularly because my specific interests are related to processes of the social construction of identities in relation to race and culture and negotiating boundaries. In order to help students negotiate a process of conocimiento, I believe that we as professors must experience this process as well. Anzaldua's work calls on us to have a consciousness of this process within ourselves. Psychologists are well aware of the need to have consciousness of our own developmental experiences and challenges so that we can use these experiences positively in our attempts to help others, rather than impose our own unresolved difficulties in ways that are harmful. And I believe there is clearly a parallel process in teaching.

However, rather than focus upon the professional connections to Anzaldua in my teaching and scholarship, I have chosen a different path to explore connections between inner work and public acts. I have made a conscious choice to speak about the personal: to make, in some ways, a testimonial to Anzaldua rather than a traditional scholarly connection. That choice itself and the way I have approached it is an example of connecting inner work to public acts, of trying to create a new middle space. In that choice, I am resisting the stigmas that are related to silencing experiences of mental illness, racism, sexism, and homophobia, particularly personal experiences and particularly within the context of academia. And I am resisting the disconnection of the emotional from the intellectual or the academic. I am, of course, aware that this is not a traditional academic publication. It has no formal references (other than Anzaldua), no empirical data, little presentation of abstract concepts or theory. And this too is a conscious choice, a moment where I am resisting the elevation of the "objective" voice and the pressure to disconnect the inner work of the academic from the public act of the academic presentation or publication. It is an example of the conscious integration of the personal and the political, the conocimiento, that I attempt to bring to my teaching and my scholarship, even if I usually frame this in more traditional ways.

Anzaldua (2002) states that the cyclical process of developing conocimiento begins with el arrebato. She writes: ""Every arrebato--a violent attack, a rift with a loved one, illness, death in the family, betrayal, systemic racism and marginalization--rips you from your familiar "home" casting you out of your personal Eden" (p. 546). In considering this, I wondered, How have the ruptures I have experienced catalyzed a process of conocimiento for me? How has this process shaped who I am, how and what I teach, and my commitment to social justice and academic endeavors as a means to achieve social justice?

As I considered Anzaldua's seven spaces, I thought particularly about ruptures that actively led to engaging in the cyclical process of developing conocimiento, that were beginnings, not just fragmentations, and that connected to my education and my choice to be an academic. And though I want to focus upon education and the academic role, I realized that the meaning and impacts of the arrebatos I experienced in connection to my education were shaped by many prior ruptures. So I begin with experiences of ruptures and experiencing the conflict of nepantla without meeting its possibility, of simply feeling torn between the ways.

My mother's bipolar illness meant that my childhood was filled with ruptures in my worldview and sense of familiar and safe "home." These included being moved from house to house and parent to parent almost yearly when her episodes resulted in psychiatric hospitalization. There was also a constant experience of having my own perceptions and knowledges refuted and denied because she denied the basic existence of her illness: Each time she began to become ill she refused to acknowledge the changes that were so clear to me and she actively blamed family members for the difficulties she was having. …

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