it’s not really about washing knives

it’s not really about washing knives

I wrote a piece recently about comics, and art, and method, and disrupting and questioning and hopefully growing the work that we do in the academy. Remember those little capsules that you put in water and they suddenly expand and become a huge sponge dinosaur? That’s how I think about troubling what “counts” as scholarship: the work is bursting out of the little capsule but we do not always know what magnificent beast will come from the synthesis and thought and creative energy in the end. But it is always delightful, and there is so much joy in it. And I am about joy.

This piece is called “Washing Knives” and you can read it here: Of course, it’s not really about washing knives at all, but I did write it with a sore finger all wrapped up in gauze from a kitchen injury, and that sore finger and my knife mishap got me thinking about where we find, and deny, and forget, and discover all the sharp edges in our lives and work. A dull knife– as any chef knows– is dangerous, but is it more or less dangerous to handle a sharp one with the carelessness that comes from being accustomed to the dull and limited? And what is an edge that should be sharper? What might it change? What happens when we forget that our everyday work is in fact a bit dangerous? When are we washing the proverbial knives? Methodologically, and as scholars in general, we need to get more proficient with these sharp edges, both because they are dangerous, but also because they–and we– are powerful.

Here’s what I wrote in the fancy shmancy abstract:

“This comics-based research (cbr) piece focuses on the methodological awakenings that can result from disruption, insertion, and unruly publics. An anthropologist of childhood focusing on gender and preschool, the author reflects on how as anthropologists we often forget the locations of potential transformative power in our work as we are caught up in the everyday cycle of publication and communication, and how we might awaken to diverse purposes through seeing our purposes differently, if only for a moment. The piece asks us to “try on” scholarship as guerrilla art, and to consider what would happen if our work was an untethered public gift rather than a marooned, transactional experience shaped by the contours of academic business-as-usual.”

Where is your sharpness?

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