queers in their natural habitat

in presenting to a classroom filled with artists today, a preface: this is not fine art, it is fun art.

there is a marked line between arts | crafts. a line that i crossed when i pulled out the party beads, caution tape, dyed feathers, pipe cleaners, hot glue gun. according to my research partner, i’ve queered the artistic aesthetic.

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queers in their natural habitat

the title comes from an early conversation with my subject, my dear friend. his words.

[ethnographic research has always über cringey to me, and even more so as of late.]

[[though today, i heard a talk that may have changed my mind. in discussing his research of the activist writing within the community surrounding the flint, mi water crisis, donnie sackey  emphasized the importance of making the subjects of our research project participants rather than mere objects to be poked and prodded. our work is something different when we do not speak as authority, but as the vessel of another’s story, a fellow activist/change-maker–acknowledging that most are capable of telling their own story. it is different when we care about our subjects, and involve them in the process. although this was not expressly articulated, it was so clear that sackey does good work because it is important that humans with access and means make change–not for recognition or any other self-serving reason, but to help people. so much of what i have read has operated on the assumption that the researcher is somehow capable of writing the story, capable of understanding the thought life or cultural implications of another world, capable of analyzing/synthesizing/assessing/drawing parallels from the position of outsider. ew. but that sackey-gem shifts things. i feel more comfortable approaching the study of humans.]]

so with that, i respond to my research activity as affirming in some ways, enlightening in others, and also compelling. the next phase of this project will take textual form. i will share more as that develops. until then, thoughts of zoo enclosures, tripping wires, shame-necessitated pride, caution, ‘queering all the things,’ love, partnership, the things we put on, and the burden on educators to embody a culturally proactive approach swirl around in my mind.

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