Collaboration by Difference

August 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I learned recently about the work of HASTAC and Cathy Davidson, and appreciate what she raises here about the importance of designing for divergence and difference.  And I would also take her up on her third question and ask what she might be missing.  For me, it is one thing to distinguish between experts and novices, and another thing to altogether redefine “expertise,” understanding that academic/formal educational training is not the sole source of valuable knowing.  Let’s lift lived experience to that level as well!

Relatedly, there is a big missed piece here around power and privilege, especially in the context of social change work, and what and who gets privileged as “legitimate” in collaborative endeavors.  Power and privilege is part of the water in which we swim in society, playing out along a variety of dimension of diversity (gender, race, ethnicity, education, organizational role, language, cognitive style, etc.).  So it behooves us to name and work with these dynamics as they influence not just opportunities for innovation but reshaping the conversations and structures that perpetuate injustice.  Remembering Humberto Maturana’s definition of love as “accepting the other as a legitimate other,” the invitation then, is to take initiative in fostering ally behavior and creating norms, structure, and systems that level the playing field.

What are your thoughts and additions?

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