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Assessment 1 Reflective Journal
The purpose of this assessment exercise is twofold: first, it aims to get you to think critically
about several key issues raised in your readings and the accompanying lectures; second, it aims
to get you to begin using the critical terminology you have encountered in your readings and the
accompanying lectures. Thinking critically means thinking in a way that demands and seeks
clarity of ideas, precision with definitions, and an understanding of key presuppositions.
Presuppositions are in many ways the most important focus of what critical thinking entails
because it essentially demands that we interrogate what we take for granted, i.e., that which we
don’t think about but nonetheless think with. Critiques of ‘white privilege’, ‘gender bias’,
‘homophobia’ and so on are all critiques of presuppositions, assumptions that are made about
the world that aren’t factored into thought. When we think or say, ‘that’s no job for a woman’
(as people have said in the past about a range of professions) we are presupposing a set intrinsic
limits and restrictions relating to our understanding of what being a woman entails. Overturning
those assumptions has been a century long labour of critical thinking and activism.
Taking that same critical mindset of refusing to accept assumptions at face value, your task with
the following questions is to write short critical responses (250 words per question) that address
the critical issues they raise. I have added a brief outline of the issues that I think these questions
raise, but you should feel free to add your own, and to respond selectively (I don’t expect you to
respond to all the issues).
Question 1 (week 2)
According to Nixon, we lack the representational means to represent slow forms of violence to
ourselves. Why is this a problem?
Issues to consider:
• What does Nixon mean by representational means?
• What makes slow forms of violence particularly resistant to representation?
• How would things be different if we did have adequate representational means?
Question 2 (Week 3)
Birch says we need to need to nurture places where connection and ethical dialogue can take
place. Why is this important?
Issues to consider:
• What does Birch mean by place?
• What does Birch mean by ethical dialogue?
• What does Birch mean by connection?
• What will happen if we don’t nurture such places?
Question 3 (Week 4)
What does Moreton-Robinson mean by white sovereignty?
Issues to consider:
• What is meant by the term ‘sovereignty’?
• Why does Moreton-Robinson use the term ‘white sovereignty’ rather than settler sovereignty,
or colonial sovereignty?
• Why is the issue of sovereignty a central concern for Moreton-Robinson? What other concepts
does it displace or replace?
Question 4 (Week 5)
According to Danowski and Viveiros the anthropomorphic worldview is more respectful of the
other-than-human world than the anthropocentric worldview.
Issues to consider:
• What do Danowski and Viveiros mean by worldview?
• What is the difference (according to Danowski and Viveiros) between the anthropomorphic and
the anthropocentric worldviews?
• Why (according to Danowski and Viveiros) are they dialectically opposed and not simply
• What is the significance (according to Danowski and Viveiros) of the difference between the
anthropomorphic and the anthropocentric worldviews?
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