Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

stumbling into spirit

by • May 7th, 2012

Center of the Storm (my interpretation for this painting) by Rajaa Hoteit

“Palestine Monologues” was received with enthusiasm by an audience of 200 people, most of whom stood throughout the performance in an outdoor grove at Lebanese-American University in Beirut. I was surprised at how non-ideologic the play by Sonja Linden turns out to be…the Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani put the culture in perspective for me by saying it all comes down to the love of negotiation. This blogpost features the paintings of Rajaa Hoteit in the search to find novel ways of talking that break old patterns and therefore create new ways of relating in social and political reality.

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anti-honoraria

by • May 27th, 2007

My stance vis-a-vis the UMass Amherst administration’s decision to grant an honorary degree to President Bush’s ex-chief-of-staff, Andrew Card, was pre-established before the event was known. I was hired to interpret the graduate commencement ceremony at least a month before the decision about Card was announced.
I witnessed the swell of protest activity from a distance, observing. I did sign the petition, but my active participation was constrained by my paid role, by my work. Of course, I could have done many things, and probably could have “gotten away” with many things – but to do so would have compromised the deep commitment of professional interpreters to provide linguistic accessibility in the most impartial way possible.
Still – the challenge of how consumed some quality planning time between my teammate and me. We were fortunate to be aware of the scope of the planned protest and thus were able to strategize effectively. It so transpired, therefore, that my partner interpreted what she could make out of speech concerning Card, and I interpreted the protesters chanting. A satisfactory, ethical, and impartial arrangement. In fact, the protest was so loud and persistent that audience members watching the

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voices and home

by • August 11th, 2006

sea reaches.JPG.jpg

“A voice belongs first to a body, then to a language” (52).
Negar told me about an Iranian saying, that learning another language adds a new person to your self. Yes, new capacities, new zones of expression and perception, yet what Berger says is also true, the voice &emdash; in its emotion-inducing physicality [my qualification] &emdash; remains the same. This use of the word “voice” is different than Blommaert’s conceptualization of “voice” as the operationalization of intersubjective, discursive power. The intersubjective part is the part between real individuals engaged in real time (face-to-face synchronic time or asynchronous technologically-mediated time &emdash; as in the turn-taking among myself, Yasser, Jeff, Amanda, and . . . you? wink! Why not?!!)
The discursive part is the larger framework of relationships in which each of us is embedded and all of us partake. Every time we speak (via our physically-embodied voice or through written text), each utterance spins forward along a dialectical trajectory as an outgrowth of previous exposure and knowledge. Simultaneously, each utterance opens onto a potential new vista, an unknown dark zone. “Dark” because not yet lived: unexperienced, and therefore unknown. (Thanks Negar; and original thanks to

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