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7255: Development, Morality, Vodou, Mt Everest (fwd)

From: qret6394 <pharris@ou.edu>

In defense of Leslies Desmangles comments, I think his remarks were not
mreant to be interpreted on a concrete level....the objectification of
Vodouisant as similar to a "thing". I think he meant that scholars have
a heightened curiosity about phenomena operating in the world and want
to learn and understand more about them. From a pardigmatic/theoretical
perpsective there are many ways of contextualizing scholarly
explorations that speak directly to a scholar's positioning with regard
to the nature of knowledge ( epistemology) and the nature of reality
(ontology). I have seen nothing in the work of Desmangles that hints to
the notion of seeing people as mere objects, or of Vodou as an object.
On the contrary, I think most of us (should) acknowledge Vodou as a verb
more than a noun, as a practice, a way of being in the world, a way of
interpreting events (including material, social and individual levels)
that privileges the spiritual order of meaning and presence in each of
these areas. In other words material objects, social processes and an
individual's ability to reflect on and ponder intra-personally are more
than their mere actuality..there is a deeper spiritual meaning and force
at work within these. Thus, Vodouisants possess a different ontological
perspective. A scholar has great interest in understanding the dynamics
of this perspective..not to see it merely as an object.

I agree completely with Bob's post that there are a multiplicity of ways
of assisiting Haitians to realize a better quality of life...and this
does in fact include the arts, scholarship, and the numerous projects
that people undertake often with very few resources at their disposal
except perhaps their will, their faith and their good intentions.Not one
person nor one group has the "correct answers"..Haitis's problems are
complex and many faceted both in their origin and evolution and
naturally this requires activism and projectsn on and from numerous
fronts.  But I also believe that not all activisms and projects are
equal in terms of  1) their respect for self determination 2) their self
awareness in terms of the realtionships of depednecy that they can
reproduce, and 3) their tolerance for accepting that there are different
and equally valid ways of conceputalizing the universe and  people's
place in it (ie. Vodou).Good intentions do not always equal good
outcomes...this is more than evident. My posts about the activities of
the University of Oklahoma in Haiti were/are presented as just one way
of adding to the body of effort and as a means of creating awareness on
this side of the swimming pool about what's going on over there on the
other side. There are engineering, medical, architectural, music,
journalist majors sitting in my classes who just might be willing/able
to bring their unique talents and skills to the table for assisitng
others. The task is so great that it requires the skills of many...there
is indeed no room for arrogance. But I would not confuse advocacy for
the right of others to chose for themselves as a rejection of ,or
arrogance towards, the multiplicity of activisms and social projects.
Patti K. Harris
University of Oklahoma