One may be speaking about another as an advocate or a messenger if the person cannot speak for herself. However, while there is much theoretical and practical work to be done to develop such alternatives, the practice of speaking for others remains the best option in some existing situations.
Simply put, the discursive context is a political arena. There can be no complete or definitive solution to the problem of speaking for others, but there is a possibility that its dangers can be decreased. Let me offer an illustration of this. This procedure would be most successful if engaged in collectively with others, by which aspects of our location less obvious to us might be revealed.
At a recent symposium at my university, a prestigious theorist was invited to give a lecture on the political problems of post-modernism.
In the end Spivak prefers a "speaking to," in which the intellectual neither abnegates his or her discursive role nor presumes an authenticity of the oppressed, but still allows for the possibility that the oppressed will produce a "countersentence" that can then suggest a new historical narrative.
Anne Cameron, a very gifted white Canadian author, writes several first person accounts of the lives of Native Canadian women. He lectures instead on architecture. These examples demonstrate the range of current practices of speaking for others in our society. Both collective action and coalitions would seem to require the possibility of speaking for.
Our ability to assess the effects of a given discursive event is limited; our ability to predict these effects is even more difficult. This is meant to acknowledge their own understanding that they are speaking from a specified, embodied location without pretense to a transcendental truth.
I want to illustrate the implications of this fourth point by applying it to the examples I gave at the beginning. In her important paper, "Dyke Methods," Joyce Trebilcot offers a philosophical articulation of this view.
I will attempt to make these issues clear before turning to discuss some of the possible responses to the problem and advancing a provisional, procedural solution of my own. Not only what is emphasized, noticed, and how it is understood will be affected by the location of both speaker and hearer, but the truth-value or epistemic status will also be affected.
We might try to delimit this problem as only arising when a more privileged person speaks for a less privileged one.
In speaking for myself, I momentarily create my selfjust as much as when I speak for others I create them as a public, discursive self, a self which is more unified than any subjective experience can support.
The criterion of group identity leaves many unanswered questions for a person such as myself, since I have membership in many conflicting groups but my membership in all of them is problematic.
Rituals of speaking are politically constituted by power relations of domination, exploitation, and subordination. Thus, to promote "listening to" as opposed to speaking for essentializes the oppressed as non-ideologically constructed subjects.
Location and positionality should not be conceived as one-dimensional or static, but as multiple and with varying degrees of mobility. However, a partial loss of control does not entail a complete loss of accountability.I couldn't agree more—we need to actively teach students out of using the five-paragraph essay, which is little more than an organizational framework.
Consider the following true stories: 1. Anne Cameron, a very gifted white Canadian author, writes several first person accounts of the lives of Native Canadian women.Download