Saturday, May 5, 2007

Pierre Bourdieu, Yale, Amistad

"The concept of habitus is foundational to Bourdieu’s theory of social research. Bourdieu combined a structuralist framework with close attention to subjectivity in social context. A key relationship in bridging objectivism and subjectivism in social research, for Bourdieu, is that between habitus and field via practices. To study the subjective-objective nature of social practices, the researcher may take on the perspectives of both research subject and observer in kind of double participant observation, which combines the objective study of the world with reflexive knowledge of the subject(s) of the study. The double objectification in his method is described by Jenkins (1992:50), “First, there is the work done in the act of observation and the objectification or distortion of social reality which it is likely to produce. Second, there is an awareness of that distortion and of the observer as a competent social actor in his/her own right.”
In 1999 I was living in New Haven. I was crashing temporarily with a buddy of mine from Dalton Schools and his future wife. I was coming off of a meltdown period in Williamsburg and trying to get my bearings on some things. We will get to that when I talk about Dalton, Art, Christies, Frantz Fanon and other things in later posts. Any way I discovered Bourdieu in that period. He will be very important on this blog.
I remember seeing contemporaries of mine there, like Rachel Berwick, Paul Henry Ramirez, Guy Richard Smith happily going along with their careers while I was lost in the wilderness. It was very painful. New Haven ( like Providence, Rhode Island where I went to college at RISD) was a huge slaveport(back "when"). I remember seeing the Amistad monument in New Haven. It started me thinking about how all the wealth of the North Eastern WASP establishment was intricately tied in with the enslavement of Africans. It's hard to square your reverence for the better schools on the East Coast with that fact.

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