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HREQ 1900 Lecture Notes - Binary Opposition, Problematization

Human Rights and Equity Studies
Course Code
HREQ 1900
Nadiah Habib

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Lecture # 2: Narratives of Conception
1. the dominant ideology : A set of interrelated beliefs that tell us how the
world works and how it ought to work, hence it is descriptive and
prescriptive, it describes and prescribes. These taken for granted
notions come to appear natural to us, but there is nothing natural about
them. The dominant ideology reinscribes and reinforces the status quo
and resists change.
2. objectivity : there is nothing objective about objectivity, both the
notion of objectivity and the notion of the dominant ideology go hand
in hand. When something appears objective, it is camouflaging its
perspective. When the perspective is stated and evident it invites us to
think with it or against it. The notion of ‘perspective’ has been made
suspect, while the notion of objectivity is made to seem more valuable.
3. difficult knowledge : difficult knowledge is knowledge that often
challenges the dominant ideology that is either difficult for us to accept,
so we reject it and its source [because it deeply challenges some of our
long held beliefs] or we embrace it wholeheartedly without subjecting
that knowledge to a critical evaluation. When you are in the grips of
difficult knowledge it is important to ask yourselves: what is it about
this information that is causing me to reject it so vehemently/ or what is
it about this information that I find so seductive?
4. Problematization is a critical and pedagogical dialogue or process and
may be considered a process of demystification. Rather than taking the
common knowledge (myth) of a situation for granted, problematization
poses that knowledge as a problem, allowing new viewpoints,
consciousness, reflection, hope, and action to emerge. What may make
problematization different from other forms of criticism is its target, the
context and details, rather than the pro or con of an argument. More
importantly, this criticism does not take place within the original
context or argument, but draws back from it, re-evaluates it, leading to
action which changes the situation. To problematize a statement, for
example, one asks simple questions:
-- Who is making this statement?
-- Who is s/he making it for?
-- Why is this statement being made here, now?
-- Whom does this statement benefit?
-- Whom does it harm?
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