Joe Parker, Associate Professor of East Asian Thought, Pitzer College
"Postcolonial Pedagogies: Rethinking the Disciplinary Object of Study"
Responding to the ISS mission of recentering biblical studies on people rather than texts strictly conceived, Parker discussed pedagogical techniques for rethinking the object of study. His talk drew on Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, Luce Irigaray, Donna Haraway, Gayatri Spivak and others to make the point that objects of knowledge are reinforced as real and natural and accordingly construct power relations. Parker critiqued hierarchical pedagogical models by advocating the following strategies to effect student learning: 1) problematizing the object of knowledge; 2) engaging epistemology; 3) scrambling the academy site (such as the classroom, library); 4) deprivileging writing and ‘reason’; and 5) emphasizing demonstrative evidence. Attendants asked whether the dissolution of the colonizing self (i.e. the U.S.A.) only makes room for the next colonizing self (such as China) and what it meant to decolonize the academy. In other words, are these efforts part of a program nostalgic for postmodernism? The group began a discussion about what forms of evidence are traditionally and practically legitimate in biblical studies academic programs.