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Righteous Dopefiend Lecture 1

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Andrea Muehlebach

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Lecture 1: Righteous Dopefiend Youtube Video - Next Door But Invisible: The World of Homelessness and Drug Addict o What We Are Doing Today: - A theory of abuse - A moral economy of gifting - Engaged/medical anthropology What work do you think the authors are trying to do when combining written and contextual analysis? - Images provoke certain kinds of sentiments - Evokes lives of filth, lives that many of us would consider disgusting - Or creates a shocked emotion when seeing images or passing by these people Bourgois Insists on avoiding.. - A voyeuristic pornography of suffering o A particular way of watching something in the world that you are intensely fascinated by o One mechanism for many of, who are consistently encountering images of suffering (poverty, earthquakes) o It creates a removal through vision o This is the wrong sentiment that we have o We need to train our bodies and psyches and mind to a very different kind of encounter with these kinds of images o It is this voyeuristic removal (this watching) rather than being engaged that he wants us to change and actually get involved  What can we do about it?  he has suggestions about San Fransico - The objectification of the people under study o Objectification = person gets treated as a thing or object (soeome who lacks dignity, humanity, or can be interchangeable o As social scientists that what happens in encounters with o It is always a mechanism that someone always becomes dispensible (why should we care about this object? He is not even worthy of life) - The essentialization of difference o If you essentialize someone, you’re assuming that this person is made up of unchanging essence o Somehow the person is homogenous across social group o Ie. Homeless people do not want to work o The essence of the group is different of another group o By describing these essences, you are creating strong exclusionary boundaries between people o There is no way to transcend these essentialized boundaries where you are assuming absolute boundaries rather than relative  Discrimination 2013 Study By Susan Fiske – Professor of Psychology, Princeton - neuroimaging-psychology o The term of objectification here has now been proven through brain imaging essentially o The part of the brain that has to do with objects is activated when talking to someone about homeless o American’s react to the poor with disgust and again objectifies them o Objectification and essentialization is necessary step for policy of neglect that have been systematically followed everywhere Once again… - Cultural relativism, which strategically suspends moral judgment in order to understand and appreciate the diverse logics of social and cultural practices that often evoke righteous responses and prevent analytical self-reflection (Bourgois 2009:7). o Abstaining strategically from moral judgment Bourgeous had conversations with some people - “If you can’t see the face, you can’t see the misery…” - This invisible group who lives in invisible spaces have a deep desire to be seen and to be recognize - The book will always document the constant struggle to move out - The introduction of a cast of character, Bourgeous was working with a whole research team, was focused around 20 people and for 12 years o You will encounter different characters, and their relationships with each other o Pay attention the ethnography method of creating characters o This is a book about violence and abuse (many different forms)  engrained with these violence and abuse has stories of care - We will encounter o The forms of care in the community o It is about characters and care to create empathetic narratives - Isn’t there also complicity here? Can we divorce ourselves completely from the person laying on the street begging for a dollar? - You’ll also see, these people have a history (a particular kind of childhood), they might have had jobs, they are mothers, or fathers o One of the characters had a job as a forklift but lost it because of his habits - Ethnograph always you to see that homeless people aren’t just homeless, but they move from situation to situation Neoliberalism - 1970 and later ... restructuring of labor market o Shift away from factory work, industrial labor towards other kinds of labour work of economies and services o Being replacement by high form of labour that requires technology and services o i.e. San Fransico - Gentrification of housing market o Pushing out poor populations out of the city, or out onto the streets o These are global trends (post industrial west) - Gutting of welfare and social services for poor - Instead, increasingly punitive approach to poverty, with rising incarceration rates and the criminalization of poverty o While wealth fare is being retrenched, at the same time poverty is being governed through policing o There is a correlation between withdrawal of welfare - Minorities and women disproportionally hit with these changes. A Theory of Abuse - The central goal is to clarify the relationships between large-scale power forces and intimate ways of being ...”
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