“we don’t obtain knowledge by standing outside the world; we know because we are of the world” (Barad, 2007, p. 185)
Always curious about the serious playfulness of words and phrases, I bring forth an idea of how the use of different preposition/pronoun combinations provoke a shift in thinking. Particularly, how a pedagogy of thinking with waste and a pedagogy of thinking about waste create very different spaces of possibility in human/waste relations. A pedagogy of thinking with opens up a space for human and more-than human relations. It is in the entangled relationships that the ongoing process of meaning making in a collective co-constitutive common world evolve. In a “machine, organism and human embodiment all [are] articulated—brought into a co-constitutive relationship—in complex ways” (Haraway, 2004, p. 130). Although complex, messy, and uncomfortable, a pedagogy of thinking with breaks the divisive dualism of self/other.
The self-crow-garbage encounter
Having spent all week re-assigning onetime valuable items into disposable trash, I unceremonious dump all of my newly deemed undesirables into a garbage bag to be taken to the curb and then trucked away and out of my sight. With a quick wash of my hands, I am no longer burdened with this unsavory mess that I now call garbage. Or at least I would be unburdened of this mess if it were not for those pesky ‘Thursday crows’. I never seem to notice or think about crows until Thursday. Thursdays are garbage day and on garbage day I find myself thinking about nothing but crows as I once again become entangled in a self-crow-garbage encounter. My weekly contentious game of ‘hide and seek’ with the crows challenges my sense of proprietary ownership over what is ‘my garbage’. Each Thursday morning, the crows (re)appear like clockwork to swoop down from their perches on top of nearby roofs in order to forage ‘my garbage’. I cringe each time I hear the distant call of those uninvited ‘Thursday crows’ for I know they are sending a call out to their kin to join them in their feast of stolen garbage.
Normally, I stand guard ready to chase the crows away in what must seem comical to onlookers (both humans and crows) but this Thursday was different. Inspired by my recent readings from Donna Haraway’s book Staying with the Trouble: making kin in the Chthulucene, I began to wonder what might happen if I ‘stay with the trouble’. By ‘staying with the trouble,’ I began to question my place in the self-crow-garbage encounter. If I don’t want the garbage, why am I unwilling to ‘allow’ the crows to have it? In fact, when I think about waste, I no longer refer to each item as individual pieces but rather as a non-descript collection of garbage, as if to further remove any residual value. What is it about this self-crow-encounter that troubles my relationship with waste? Perhaps if I shift from thinking about waste to thinking with waste, the real challenge is in decentering my place in this human-waste relation that I refer to as ‘my’ self-crow-garbage encounter.
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway. Durham: Duke University Press.
Haraway, D. J. (2004). The Haraway Reader. New York: Taylor and Francis Group
Haraway, D. J. (2016). Staying with the trouble: making kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.