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“Hearing Voices”

September 8, 2012

“On an ideal dialogical model for the classroom, stories and meanings of less powerful as well as more powerful groups will intermingle and ‘be heard’ in mutual communication and progressive understanding. Or, as Aronowitz and Giroux put it, ‘students must engage knowledge as border-crossers … students cross over into realms of meaning … that are increasingly being renegotiated and rewritten’ … This call for dialogue or shared talk or border crossing is, at root, a request for action by the dominant group – for them to grant a hearing to the usually excluded and suppressed voice and realms of meaning of the subaltern. After all, listening or crossing-over into realms of meaning is hardly required the other way around; members of marginalized or colonized groups do not need to encounter the voice of the powerful – they are immersed in it and hear it daily. … Here is the nub of the argument: the real exclusion here is not that of the subordinate at all. It is the dominant group’s exclusion from – their inability to hear – the voice of the marginalized. This silence in the ears of the powerful is misrecognized as the silence of the subaltern, and it reproduces the exclusion of the subaltern. [Maria] Lugones again: ‘We and you do not talk the same language. When we talk to you we use your language: the language of your experience and of your theories. We try to use it to communicate our world of experience. But since your language and your theories are inadequate in expressing our experiences, we only succeed in communicating our experience of exclusion. We cannot talk to you in our language because you do not understand it.’”[1]


[1] 307 Alison Jones (1999) ‘The Limits of Cross-Cultural Dialogue: pedagogy, desire, and absolution in the classroom’ Educational Theory 49(3) Summer: 299-316

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