Saturday, February 7, 2009

Immer diese Deutschen...

I was excited about reading the Basu/Dutta article on sex worker in India. Not only because this topic partly falls into my own research area, but also to see a first usage of the culture centered approach. I was shocked, but really not surprised, to read how many people in the process of setting up e.g. SHIP are throwing themselves in the way of people who are only trying to improve their own living condition without really interfering in anybody else's life. I can see now, once a program like SHIP is in place, it is not all peace and happiness. I can see now, how the struggle and fight is not over and how people in marginalized spaces have to keep fighting for their rights/health/dignity...on a daily basis still.

Beck's article reminded me once again of the categorical imperative, I believe he even quoted Kant somewhere along the way. I still can't make up my mind about progress, decisions that have to be made and risks that need to be taken in order to achieve progress, but at the same time without risking people's lives, their health, etc. Don't get me wrong, anything that is known beforehand to cause serious damage needs to be rethought and changed, before an attempt to even try is made. But I guess that is exactly Beck's point when talking about a risk society, we just sometimes don't know until it happens and we can't possibly insure ourselves. I am still not 100% clear on what to think and I am deeply looking forward to your responses and the class discussion on Tuesday. I have a feeling, however, that this feeds into the overall topic of exploiting those, who don't have anything to begin with, this time, but taking risks on their behalves.

Veena Das article about the constructions of pain got me into thinking about the constructions of social death and physical death. The latter is the rather common one, with losing the bodily functions to live, you are considered dead. Physical death I wanna simply state here is receiving the same definitions of poeple from all nations, cultures, and backgrounds, please correct me if my assumptions are wrong though. Now social death has to be a construct of society, and the example in the article with the father yelling "she is not dead" makes a great example. Whereas in my culture, there is no difference between social and physical death, in others there is, and one can only grasp such a difference by learning about that culture. Then I started thinking if there is indeed such a thing as a social death where I'm from, or therefore in any other westernized country. What if an individual doesn't act the way society expects them to. What if you find yourself in a society that does not accept homosexuality, yet you find yourself loving a man or woman of the same gender. What if you act and behave against those socially constructed ideas of right and wrong and date that person anyways, is that when we consider someone socially dead?

Time and discipline..."discipline arranges a positive economy...this means that one must seek to intensify the use of the slightest moment" (Foucault, p154) It was interesting to read, how one the one hand the whole idea of discipline, timing, efficiency, speed...contributes to a more efficient and also powerful product, but how, at the same time, these same criteria allow for more control over both the individual and the mass. I wondered if "discipline" as defined by Foucault is necessary to increase productivity, or if there is another way, a less controlling way, to achieve the same goals. Coming from the number one car industry, with Stuttgart being the location of Mercedes Benz, Porsche and Audi just being a hop, skip, jump away, I can't help but wonder how truly efficient for example an assembly line is, but at the same time, by having worker lined up, it allows for so much control and comparison at the same time. But then yet again, isn't that one major ingredient of what makes a company successful? And on a completely different thought, coming back to my initial quote: on a daily basis I tell my two male roommates, "hey, while waiting till your toast is done, why not empty the dish washer..." truly a disciplinary statement, Foucault would be proud of me!

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