We need to complicate the idea of problematizing.

Though I generally consider myself a feminist, it shocks me how little I know about the topic.  This is especially true when faced with the depth and breadth of knowledge available. This shock often manifests itself in an inability to engage in feminist discourse.  As a scholar, I know I should spend time researching what the waves of feminism are and how this affects culture and my life.  But as a person, I feel overwhelmed.  Truthfully, since this topic has minimal connection to my research, I will probably not put effort into learning the vocabulary to engage in this discussion fully. Even though I am directly affected by the ideas of feminism, the entry bar to understanding the issues fully is too high.

Are we, as digital humanists, exclusionist in the language we use to describe the systemic issues that exclude people?  Ideas that go viral are simple, easily applicable, and easily changed to fit a personal framework (Bennett & Segerberg).  Yet while discussing topics of race and gender, simplifying an issue can create misinformation and misunderstanding.  We all have complex and rich histories, we just need a staring place to begin exploring them.   These histories are all about perspective, meaning we need more people with diverse backgrounds to engage in these topics and allow for their voices to be heard.  It is necessary for digital humanists to create an entry point for those interested in developing and sharing their knowledge on issues like race and gender.

My first learning about Thanksgiving was in kindergarten and taught that the American Indians and the pilgrims were friends.  None of the problems were introduced.  However, this was the beginning of my scaffolding to learn about the issues and problems that exist in the world.  Though we are no longer children, the learning process occurs in much the same way. If we start off by teaching our students or even the world about systemic issues by addressing them head on in their full problematization, people may become overwhelmed and leave without even trying to understand.  It is a challenge to make sure people do not shrug off our ideas as over complicated while still keeping the ideas fully intact.

So, the question is where do we start? We need to find a way to simplify without losing truth and allow for a general entry point for those who may not be interested yet.  These ideas about systemic injustice need to be seen by the entire population, not just by scholars.



Lance Bennett & Alexandra Segerberg (2012) THE LOGIC OF CONNECTIVE ACTION, Information, Communication & Society, 15:5, 739-768, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2012.670661


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