Sunday, 5 August 2018

The Pedagogy of Primo Levi

Dear Colleagues,

As I enter the final stages of writing up my thesis, I am wistfully dreaming of how best to use my free time once I have (all being well) completed the examination and completed the DProff programme.

One particular daydream is to spend time thinking through what a pedagogy of Primo Levi looks and feels like. For a number of years I have taken time to slowly read through a portion of Levi's writing, and have began Carol Angier's magisterial biography. I have re-read the few books I started, and re-read also the first 10-15 pages of biography, because everything I encounter is so profound I am not sure I have understood or comprehended it.

As my thesis has touched upon issues of ontology and epistemology drawing upon literature of freedom and liberation, I feel the need to look at Levi anew, in terms of asking how and whether it is possible to devise a philosophy of his knowledge to inform educational methodology and practice.

I will happily spend the rest of my days on this project :)

Whilst doing the student thing of doing anything other than what you are supposed to, I have come across a revelatory book, Approaches to Teaching the Works of Primo Levi:
Whilst this books sits more under the heading of literary studies it looks like the perfect place to start my exploration.

There are other books also that look valuable as part of this endeavour, and I hope to link this new focus in my on-going contribution to activist education.

If anyone has ideas for reading on Levi and pedagogy please post it here.

In Solidarity


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements

Dear Colleagues,

Just came across an amazing new book that I wanted to plug, and it comes at a pertinent point in writing thesis findings. The new book, The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements, is the kind of analysis we need where movements are nothing more than a group of decent people, with good intentions, few resources, no money, but a powerful, aggressive enemy.

Thus the book draws on the experience of the US civil rights movement to ask how repression was a a force for solidarity and galvanisation. There is a lengthy outline by the books editors here on the Waging Non-Violence blog: 

The relevance to my thesis is asking how the movement came to learn generically to generate strategy, and how it came to turn the practice of repression into a theory of resistance. Here is the first paragraph from the book review:

From Bull Connor’s dogs and fire hoses attacking U.S. civil rights demonstrators to the massacre at Amritsar in colonial India, the use of coercive force against dissidents often backfires, becoming a transformative event that can change the course of a conflict. Rather than demobilizing a movement, repression often ironically fuels resistance and undercuts the legitimacy of a power elite. Although a long scholarly tradition explores the unintended consequences of martyrdom and other acts of violence, more attention could be paid to what we call the paradox of repression — that is, when repression creates unanticipated consequences that authorities do not desire. Efforts by power elites to oppress movements often backfire, mobilizing popular support for the movements and undermining authorities, potentially leading to significant reforms or even a regime’s overthrow.

Please read the entire article and post thoughts/views.

In Solidarity