Positioning in Writing ✼
Who am I?
I am atoms, molecules, and cells. I am the air that I breathe. I am the sounds I hear and the sights I see. I am a daughter. I am a sister and half sister. I am a niece. I am an aunt. I am a wife. I am a woman and identify with the pronouns she/her. I am a Canadian. I am an expat. I am a friend. I am an acquaintance. I am a coworker. I am a passer-by. I am a visitor. I am an observer. I am a participant. I am a student. I am 2 years of preschool, 8 years of elementary, 5 years of secondary, and 8—going on 9—years of postsecondary education. I am a 90s kid. I am a Mario Kart champion. I am a chocoholic. I am a runner. I am a soccer player. I am a cyclist. I am an athlete. I am my thoughts and actions. I am my beliefs. I am my experiences.
What is my ambition as a designer?
I am reminded of the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” These kinds of questions bother me, because we don’t live in a static world and I don’t want to be tied down. I think this is part of the reason why I have been studying in university for so long. All this time I have been searching for a path to a career which will allow me the most flexibility, and of course, lifelong learning. I don’t want to label myself as one thing, but be able to change directions and follow what interests and inspires me.
Pick a topic of interest and say something “new” about it.
This week’s assignment was to find a manifesto or position in art, craft, technology, or science that dates before 1910 and explain what makes it relevant for our time. My manifesto of choice was The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which was published in 1848. The manifesto proclaims that history can be understood as the history of class struggles, “each time end[ing], either in a revolutionary reconstruction of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes” (Engels, p. 3, 2008). Marx and Engels believed that the proletariat, or working class, would be responsible, not only for the demise of the modern bourgeois society, but for the class system in general.
What struck me most about this manifesto was the notion of successive class struggles as a defining characteristic of history—not necessarily the communist goals at the time. Throughout history we can see evidence of contending classes, from the patricians and plebeians in ancient Rome to the lords and serfs of the Middle Ages. The oppressor and oppressed. These class systems are shaped by and aligned with the economic landscape of the time. In the case of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the former emerged from the ruins of feudal society and gained momentum with the Age of Exploration. During this period there was a rapid development of the modes of production and exchange as the market and demand kept growing; guilds were taken over by manufacturing systems, which were then replaced by modern industry and its leaders—the bourgeoisie. Meanwhile the proletariat sank lower and lower, becoming mere cogs in the wheel for modern industry, facing exploitation from the bourgeoisie.
Throughout history, one class seems to prop itself up on the other by means of exploitation through production and exchange. This relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed still very much exists today, and is the reason why I gravitated towards the Communist Manifesto. Moreover, these ideas from Marx and Engels reminded me of Kimberlé Crenshaw’s term intersectionality, which she coined in 1989. Crenshaw explains in an interview with TIME Magazine, what intersectionality means for her, 30 years later:
It’s basically a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other. We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.
I believe the acknowledgment and attempt to understand the various forms of inequality and/or exploitation that a group of people in society face, goes a layer deeper than the Communist Manifesto… (to be continued…).
Engels, F. (2008). Communist manifesto.