Wednesday, April 15, 2009

to trouble (a concept)

to trouble (a concept): problematizar

As in, with my research I am trying to trouble how we do solidarity, in particular around the colonial patterns we fall in to (for more on this see my other blog). Of course the cognate, problematize, also exists in English. I've always thought this just meant turning something into a problem, but the wikipedia entry is intruiguing:

To problematize (or problematise) is to propose problems.

Problematizing (or problematising) a term, writing, opinion, ideology, identity, or person is to consider the concrete or existential elements of those involved as challenges (problems) that invite the people involved to transform those situations. (Freire (1976) cited in Crotty (1998), p. 155-156)

Problematization (or problematisation) is a critical and pedagogical dialogue or process and may be considered demythicisation. Rather than taking the common knowledge (myth) of a situation for granted, problematization poses that knowledge as a problem, allowing new viewpoints, consciousness, reflection, hope, and action to emerge. (ibid)

What may make problematization different from other forms of criticism is its target, the context and details, rather than the pro or con of an argument. More importantly, this criticism does not take place within the original context or argument, but draws back from it, re-evaluates it, leading to action which changes the situation. Rather than accepting the situation, one emerges from it, abandoning a focalised viewpoint. (ibid)

To problematize a statement, for example, one asks simple questions:

  • Who is making this statement?
  • Who is s/he making it for?
  • Why is this statement being made here, now?
  • Whom does this statement benefit?
  • Whom does it harm?


moira said...

would "deconstruct" be a good synonym?

Sara Koopman said...

it's not exactly the same thing. I like to trouble better because it implies that it sparks you into action, where as deconstruction usually does not. people just take apart the pieces and leave them lying there on the floor.