THOUGHTS ON TRAVELLING TERMS AND TRANSVERSALISM
AN ESSAY BY LÆRKE CECILIE ANBERT
Terms and concepts constantly transgress BORDERS – geographical and disciplinary – moving from one context to another, from text to research tools. Together they form a SPAN, a BRIDGING of ideas, feelings, bodies and minds.
In 2000 Marjorie Pryse wrote an article in an attempt to engage with the feminist methodologies and the crossing of analytic and disciplinary boundaries. This is my interpretation of her text and her concepts, rooted in my embodied experiences.
Identity politics raises problems of categorisations, of reinforcing positions and boundaries – constructing essentialist homogeneity – rather than making borders, categories, humans, identities, and worlds fluid. The language of TRANSVERSALISM can move us away from this, and into a world of TRANS – a BRIDGE, a SPAN ACROSS CHASMS. It is also interwoven in the language of TRANS(LATION), TRANS(PORT), TRANS(FORMATION). The movement, the transforming qualities of languages and of methodologies that are rethought, reconfigured and re-examined can move us into a fluidity of TRANS. In interdisciplinary work, and in everyday language and understandings.
Knowledge is always situated and always partial. Knowledge defines itself in specific times and places. If critically questioned, it allows us to question and acknowledge our own socio-politically bred biases – our racism, classism, homophobia, and ableism.
To examine our own positions, and accompanying privilege and constraints can help some stay silent when there are no need for words or more opinions, and others to speak more often, and be heard.
The travelling terms, the concept of TRANSVERSALISM is a call to develop interdisciplinary methodologies, to BRIDGE the gap between UNIVERSALISM and RELATIVISM.
Pryse offers a way out – an alternative to identity politics – and calls attention to the importance of humbling one’s own beliefs before different cultural texts.
“…I suggest that thinking across disciplinary boundaries and theorizing, listening and analyzing across vectors of race, class, gender, and sexuality, are each in themselves cognitive and affective activities that promote translation and dialogue and when we combine them, create necessary and sufficient conditions for a critical feminist interdisciplinarity” (Pryse 2000:107).
TRANSVERSALISM is a humble way of asserting and articulating one’s sense of knowledge in the world – a move towards interdisciplinary approaches that breaches borders to the ends of achieving a more feminist way of being.
Pryse, Marjorie, 2000. ”Trans/Feminist Methodology: Bridges to Interdisciplinary Thinking.” Published in: NWSA Journal. Vol. 12 (2). Pp. 105-118.