Tue 10 Mar 2020 12:15AM

Practising cultural anthropology

P pospi Public Seen by 37

I would like to start some introspective dialogues to deepen our awareness of each other's cultural background, perspectives and thinking. In this way we can come closer to understanding the limits of our knowledge and the places where we lack representation.

What are the processes? How do we embody them? How do we discuss, explore, measure, share and reflect on them?


Sid Sthalekar Tue 10 Mar 2020 2:30AM

Either way is good to me tbh. I'm coming at this more from a discomfort I've had with D&I conversations with largely western projects. I think the biggest shift we have to contend with is that distributed projects genuinely aren't limited by geography/borders, and we haven't internalised this change imo.
For eg, as a brown person who's spent a large chunk of his life in Asia, I don't think of myself as a minority, but the frameworks used are often steered in that direction. It's not to say I don't face limitations, but that the expansive nature of distributed organisations allows me to amplify some of my cultural traits (something that wasn't possible before).


pospi Tue 10 Mar 2020 2:05AM

I'm glad it sounds palatable so far! 馃 Yeah, well- my first run at this was a back-of-the-napkin template which is really no better (probably worse) than a "standard" template from my PoV. A collectively created template feels like something that might be heading in a more holistic direction. And scrapping the template and starting fresh with different sets of people as the group evolves and changes over time sounds better still.


Sid Sthalekar Tue 10 Mar 2020 1:59AM

Sounds like a good process to me. Eager to hear what you had in mind for step 1: I think defining different dimensions, or 'axes' is a good start. It's a step away from the approach of applying a standard template of privilege/progressiveness on what are diverse experiences.


jean m russell Tue 10 Mar 2020 3:44PM

There are so many dimensions in which people can be marginalized... What I find fairly simple and useful is something like a 3x3x3 pattern. I can easily name 3 ways in which I experience privilege/ease compared to others. I can name 3 ways I am not a default person. And 3 edges I am working on around these topics.


pospi Tue 10 Mar 2020 12:17AM

I want to be able to make some more informed statements about our perspectives in a way that is sourced directly from each individual, similar to this.

To start, I think that means creating some kind of "taxonomy of culture and privilege" as a group. This would yield a similar set of questions to those I asked in the linked list, except they'd be better designed if done together. I forsee this being undertaken as a series of RSF sessions:

  1. collectively define a set of "dimensions" in which people may be marginalised or privileged

  2. collectively create a series of questions which can assess individuals' placement within those dimensions, without de-anonymising each of us as individuals

  3. individually provide answers to these questions

  4. discuss, synthesize and anonymise the responses to present them similar to the effort above

I can see a few lines being walked there, but am curious what people's initial thoughts on such a process are before going too much further... needs refinement now & into the future (this feels like a good practise to repeat periodically), but I think it takes us in a good direction and would be useful material to generate.