Academic journal article JCT (Online)

Auto/ethno/graphic Bricolage as Embodied Inter/culturalism: Dis/locating Stories of Becoming in Encounters with the Other

Academic journal article JCT (Online)

Auto/ethno/graphic Bricolage as Embodied Inter/culturalism: Dis/locating Stories of Becoming in Encounters with the Other

Article excerpt

My teaching identities are re-marked by geographic and ethnographic dislocations and relocations across continents - midst fragments of [lost] languages and cultures... My teaching life as an academic writes and is written by words and worlds of difference.

(Palulis in Morawski & Palulis, p. 6, 2009)

Unsettling knowledge are those ideas that disturb the convenient truths through which we organize our thoughts and make meaning out of our experience in the world. These are the theories that creep up on educators and disturb them with difficult thoughts: that education is not synonymous with rationality and control, but also that one might become unreasonable, irrational, and intractable that the persistent crises in the field... will exceed all reason and discompose all prior efforts at advancement. Unsettling knowledge invokes skepticism.

(Malewski & Sharma, 2010, p. 369)

#1: The Zagros Mountains

I ALWAYS INSIST on a window seat when I fly because I love to peer out at the landscapes that come into view over the course of a flight. On a recent trip home from the Emirates and Qatar, the flight path took us over the Persian Gulf and Iraq. Besides a trip to Baku in 2008 to attend a UNESCO/IESCO conference on expanding the role of women in cross-cultural dialogue, this was the first time I had been back to this region since moving home to Ottawa from Tehran, in 1999.

The sunny weather guarantees a clear view from the plane window. Shifting my gaze back and forth between the live flight tracker on the back of the seat in front of me and the unfolding topographies below, I scan the scene outside to identify physical features and signs of human activity.

Soon after reaching altitude I feel unexpected joy at the sight of the distant peaks of the Zagros Mountains across the Persian Gulf. Although I have forgotten most of the Farsi I struggled to learn during the three years I lived in Iran with my family, I find myself silently repeating, kuh - the Persian word for mountain - which I hadn't heard or spoken in years. Public histories and personal stories associated with the territory below swirl in my imagination to demand a hearing. Leggo (2010) writes:

Our storied lives are never only unique and idiosyncratic accounts of individual and isolate

experiences. Instead, our stories are always part of a network of communal and collaborative stories, a network that knows no beginning and no ending (p. 53).

Complexly caught up in-between language from the past, the present, and the future, the sight of the Zagros peaks triggers a flood of memories of lived experiences in Iran and other countries in this region. I stare hard and purposefully out the window to imprint upon my frail, unreliable memory as much detail as possible, as if to ward offthe pangs of regret I strangely feel. By the time we are over Al Basrah an intense tangle of thought and emotion has me firmly in its grip. Flying over Iraq in this commercial airliner becomes an unsettling provocation.

Malewski (2010c) asks us to consider what difference curriculum theorizing makes to education and the world "in terms of lessening violence toward our selves and others" (p. 535). He points out that "texts that function as a political intervention have the capacity to spur people to think in excess of common thoughts and practices" (p. 535). With this in mind, I feel compelled to share my stories (Watt, 2007, 2011a, 2011b). As Leggo (2010) reminds us, our stories are personal, but they also extend beyond the personal. It is impossible to know what mine might open up, if anything, but silence is not an option. We urgently need discourses that trouble the world (Denzin, 2010). Working with auto/ethno/graphy (Morawski & Palulis, 2009) and bricolage (Kincheloe, 2001, 2005; Watt, 2011a, 2011b), I inquire into the im/possibilities of a curriculum of hope in difficult times.

Troubling Discourses

The week before this flight I had been following world events on TV from my hotel room in Doha. …

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