On Wednesday morning, amid the turbulent mix of feelings that washed across the country and beyond its borders, an anxious existential question took hold of many of us: “what the f***k do we do?” Some seriously considered the need to flee for their lives. Others took to the streets. More than a few folks I know spent the day drunk or in bed. And, by the end of the day, safe spaces for decompression and community care emerged on many college campuses. Part of my own response, one shared by many other faculty, has been: TEACH.
Lots of us who teach in the U.S. (and, doubtless, in other places) have been asking dazed questions about how, and if, we should hold classes, what can we do with and for our students, and what responsibilities we have to teach to this event that so many of us are experiencing (in variously positioned and intersecting ways) as a disaster?
This morning, in my Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology Class, I devoted the class to reflecting (with some tears) on the climate of permissible violence targeted at those bodies the Trump campaign singled out for hate and disregard during the election, hearing from students about their concerns, and thinking about what resources different students have to safely respond and to enact civic engagement and community care. Then I gave them a mini-teach in about #cripthevote and the way the block granting of Medicaid and repeal of the ACA could literally kill people.
For those of us who teach, #teachingthedisaster will depend on who our students are, what kind of expertise we can bring to lectern/table/office hour/quad, as well as our own institutional, geographical, and sociopolitical location.
Yesterday, I reached out to colleagues to begin soliciting resources that might help each of us figure out our own approach. I’m grateful for the many rapid responses I got, both for their content and also because they manifested a heartening sense of action, which I think we all need right now. Thanks to everyone who emailed and tweeted their contributions. Below is a roughly organized (and by no means complete) collection, one to which I hope you will add.
Please share your own post-Trump teaching resources (how to teach, as well as what to teach) on twitter at #teachingthedisaster or add them to the comments section to this post.
In addition to work in my own classes, I’m also organizing a teach-in for on inauguration day, Friday January 20th. I’d urge those of you in a position to do so to do the same at your intuitions. Let’s make inauguration day a national higher ed day of action. (I know that should have ended with an exclamation point, but it will take me a few more days to muster the energy)
Why to Teach
- Marshall Sahlin’s reflections from the height of the Iraq war on Teach Ins in The Old Stoned Age
- “The Trump Effect” in schools.
- Seth Holmes reflections on Discussing the Suffering Slot with Migrant Farm Workers reminds us that injustice requires for concepts, as well as for action.
- Paul Stoller argues that, in the face of the failure of forms of quantitative knowledge, “Now is the time for ethnographers to step up.”
How to Teach
- There is a world of teaching literature on the subject of “difficult dialogues.” Here is a helpful primer from Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching.
- Though it’s geared toward k-12 education, Tolerance.Org offers helpful general classroom strategies on teaching the days after the election.
- The African American Intellectual History Society created as set of assignments to go with the Trump 2.0 Syllabus (see below). Some of the most adaptable to Anthropology include:
- Ask students to select a Trump property (current or former) and write a paper on its history of labor/client/neighborhood relations, from development to operation/sale [David Huyssen]Ask students to construct an idea/intellectual map using one Trump’s speeches, tracing where ideas come from historically and noting connection to other primary/secondary sources assigned in the course. [Brian Goldstein]Analyzing one of Trump’s interviews, ask students to highlight the overlapping dimensions of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. [Jeff Helgeson]
- Disability activist and organizer Stacey Milbern posted a few tools for Social Justice Groups/Classrooms this week, including:
Pass out pen and paper to everyone. Invite people to write a letter about this moment. Ask people to not personalize the letters or provide identifying information, but write them for anyone who may be hurting in this moment. Invite people to bring the letter to you (or a co-facilitator) if they’d like. Redistribute the letters anonymously and give time for people to read them. Invite people to read the letter they received to the group if they’d like to share.
What to Teach
On Blackness and Anti-Black Racism
- Trump 2.0 Syllabus. This may be the best single resource I’ve come across. Created by N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain and others at PublicBooks.Org, it is a historical, cultural, and political contextualization of the rise of Trump. The 15 units (each with accompanying Trump epitaph) include secondary sources plus a selection of primary and multimedia sources.
- The Black Lives Matter Syllabus, created by Frank Roberts at NYU. This syllabus focuses specifically on the BLM movement. Like the Trump 2.0 syllabus, it includes lots of primary sources as well as assignments.
- #Blacklivesmattersyllabus project from Anthropoliteia, edited by Sameena Mulla. Less specifically about the BLM movement itself, this series offers readings and assignments as well as pedagogical reflections from anthologists working on and teaching about blackness in the contemporary US.
- Ta-Nehisi Cotes. Both his “Case for Reparations” and Between the World and Me have been cropping up on anthro syllabi on a range of topics, including my own, to foster thinking about race and history in the US and the related the workings of embodiment and dispossession.
- Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail by Jason De Leon focuses on the way the necroviolence of the US border policy takes hold of the bodies of those who policy compels to come north across the Sonoran desert. It just won the AAA’s Marget Mead Award.
- Seth Holmes‘ Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farm Workers in the United States also focuses on bodies, but here, they are the bodies of undocumented migrant agricultural workers whose suffering and precarity is essential to the US economic and gustatory status quo.
- #Cripthevote. If you’re on twitter, this hashtag, created by Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project with Andrew Pulrang, and Gregg Beratan, is an amazing archive of disabled and ally voices.
- #Cripthevote: What’s the Crisis of Liberalism Got to Do with It is Faye Ginsberg and Rayna Rapp’s contribution to the CA Crisis of Liberalism Hotspot (see below), describing the role of disability engagement in the 2016 election.
- Ari Ne’man, co-founder of the Autistic Self-Advocasy Network and member of the National Council on Disability (for as long as it exists…), just wrote a perfect primer about how the repeal of the ACA and proposed block granting of Medicaid will endanger and kill disabled people. This is a must teach.
- Liz Lewis’ blog Disability Fieldnotes is a great resource both for reflective thinking about what an anthropology of disability in the U.S. might do, and also for insight, facts and figures.
How Could This Happen?
- Sarah Kendzior predicted Trump’s triumph last May, giving an account of his exploitation of American pain.
- Paul Stoller offers this on culture as an explanatory force. Though I bristle at his mobilization of a simplified culture concept in this piece, it might serve one well in the class room with a little deconstruction.
- Lilith Mahmod’s Crisis of Liberalism piece We Have Never Been Liberal, explores the way liberalism contains the conditions of possibility for fascism, both in Europe and the U.S.
The Crisis of Liberalism
- Cultural Anthropology’s Crisis of Liberalism Hotspot is hot off the press. This collection of short essays from Ulf Hannez, Andrea Mulebach, Doug Holmes and others (including SM’s own Alex Golub), has arrived just in time to help us think critically and comparatively about “our present and recent seasons of political discontent.”
The following people contributed resources for this list: Vincanne Adams, Lindsay Bell, Dominic Boyer, Christopher Chan, Seth Holmes, Cymene Howe, Kevin Karpiak, Ashley Lebner, Ken MacLeish, Carol Mcgranahan, Andrea Mulebach, and Jenny Shaw.