Monday, January 19, 2015

Transcultural Communication/Rescue Work in the Americandreamocene Epoch

I walked along a short forest path into my work today sobbing (I am a contract instructor at Royal Roads University). I arrived where the buildings are and stopped. 

My life and work in the Human Body Project parallel each other. I am not comfortable explaining to anyone why I am sobbing. I am not comfortable explaining why I need to do this work. In the same way that I am sick of research, I am exhausted by explaining "why" this work is necessary or "why" I feel raw.

We live in the Anthropocene Epoch, which I often think of as the Americandreamocene Epoch.

I didn't know from anthropocene or transcultural/indigeneity when I started this project almost 9 years ago. All I knew was pain and urgency in my being and body. In my opinion, the reason the Americandreamocene Epoch continues is because we, the humans continuing to create it, live in our heads because it is too painful to feel what is in our emotional bodies. This neverending justification cycle of "why?" (a head question) is about avoiding vulnerability, which equals feeling, which equals pain.

But here goes again with another explanation. When I say that I have come to think of this work as a form of transcultural communication, I am validated by my own personal understanding of how vulnerability and indigeneity relate, which in different ways I have written and spoken about.

Also, the last indigenous tribes on earth are extremely vulnerable. At the same time, the whole human tribe, while continuing on the destructive course of the industrial-domination-masculine energy paradigm is extremely vulnerable. This is not a coincidence. 

We can talk about windmills and recycling, for sure, but I believe the only way we're going to move forward is if our brains change from ego-based, self-protected beings to cooperative, compassionate beings. I am a fully indoctrinated ego-based, self-protected being so the pain I face letting go of that enculturation is visceral and extremely challenging. It is also the essence of my work.

I am also validated by the crossover between my work and the work of a UN-based organization which has invited me to go on an intervention excursion to help preserve an indigenous tribe in Panama that has had little contact with modern civilization. This note below is about that group trying to develop Culturally Sustainable Tourism in that area and other culturally sensitive areas:
Indigenous cultures are endangered worldwide. It is their contact with modern civilization which is triggering the processes threatening their survival. With every traditional group that vanishes, valuable knowledge is being lost. The few indigenous cultures left on this globe are far to precious to be exposed to disintegration.
If you want to maintain your decision to visit an indigenous culture, we would like to ask you not to import some of the elements of the dominant civilization which might cause irreversible damage. Primarily, the design of the body is concerned. Please make sure you only cover those parts of the body which are traditionally covered, i.e., restrict yourself to covering your loin. Women are urgently asked not to cover their breast during the visit as the import of the breast taboo is a crucial factor in the destabilization of indigenous cultures. Please refrain from wearing a watch, and if you need glasses, please try to replace them by contact lenses. With regard to gifts, it would be very helpful if you avoid everything that could lead to dependencies. You are kindly asked to integrate yourself as much as you can in order not to be an "alien object." Even if you find that external influences have already reached your host culture, please do not use this as an excuse, but rather take the chance for "rescue work" by practically showing your respect for indigenous traditions.
So, one way you could think about the Human Body Project and #VulnerabilityVigils is a form of rescue work showing practical respect for indigenous traditions. 

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