Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Kamau Kemayó

Please post questions for Kamau Kemayo by replying to this post.

8 comments:

knup2007 said...

As an African American studies professor, do you find it unfair or unequal that our university does offer such interdisciplinary or corrective majors such as Irish-American studies or Japanese-American studies? Where do you draw the line on who gets a class and who doesn't?

Samarth said...

Since interdisciplinary studies is stressed vehemently during college years and later becomes part of daily life, don't you think that an introduction to such studies should be done at the high-school level itself, so that students don't get a jolt-from-the-blue trying to tackle the complexities of such studies during college?

Jos23mz said...

You mentioned that your PhD. is in American Studies, meaning you study American history. I was wondering how you felt about that and how that discipline is similar to African American studies. Also, do you like being aknowledged in both American studies and African American studies? Do you prefer one over the other?

lruss3 said...

In discussing interdisciplinarity for upwards of three weeks now, the differences between interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary writing have been discussed quite thoroughly. Interdisciplinary writing examines information from a lense placed within disciplines, while the latter focuses more on the application of theories, concepts, and methods across disciplines. That being said, is it safe to say that African American studies can more accurately be described as transdisciplinary??

Dr. Kamau said...

to Knup2007: Many would suggest that such material as would be included in an Irish-Am major already exists in current (and past) curriculum. Perhaps as a subset of British Lit & History--even within its own course offerings at universities with substantial resources. japanese-Am studies is a subset of Asian-American studies, a large and growing field. Resources are a big issue, but looking at what research is being done, the specific history of mis- & under-representation in academia is one significant factor in favor of African American Studies. also, the history of activism that generated AAS has been done and actually benefits (-ed) the other ethnic--Am and even Women/Gender studies.

Dr. Kamau said...

Samarth: As I said during the presentation, students actually need a lot of information before beginning i/d studies--in order to understand and make the necessary conections. Many systems already do have such programs, albeit at a smaller less intense level (like everything else in a university setting.) A "Social Studies" or "Humanities" course is interdisciplinary. Similarly, schools with team taught courses often link history and english/writing or literature while teaching a specific subject. They are just not as self-conscious about their interdisciplinarity.

Dr. Kamau said...

Jos23mz: While my PhD is AmStu, I am clearly a Black Studies scholar. I teach a variety of "American" courses, so I would not (do not) deny that background--Kind of like Babe Ruth who was also a pitcher, but his claim to fame was batting. Both are accurate--one of the cultural imperatives in what I mentioned as "Afrikanity" in the lecture is a difference from the western dialect "either/or" imperative. Afrikan culture embraces a "both/and" perspective--I define myself as an Afrikan.

Dr. Kamau said...

Iruss3: I am not sure that the distinction being made is a substantial difference--or that I agree with it, or that I see it as useful. As stated, there seems to be a confusion between methodology and subject. [can you give me an example of a lense placed within disciplines-rather than placed within one discipilne?] IF I understand the difference, both inter- and trans- are used in AAS. so I cannot say either is a preferable global label for AAS. In fact I would challenge that the subject matter should determine the methodology, or perhaps a scholar's strength(s) not a prescribed notion of beginning within a discipline or applying a theory across disciplines--in fact, as most theories are generated from within a specific discipline, how can a trans-disciplinary process not be "inter-disciplinary at its inception? It appears to me that interdisciplinary writing (as you define it)would need to begin in one discipline, with one particular lense (a lense is really a theory or concept used to view a phenomenon) viewing a phenomenon. Then the lense changes when you change discipline or you must change to a phenomenon within another discipline, which seems to be what you define as trans-disciplinary. I think the distinction is really at the point of object(s) of analysis meeting parameter(s) of analysis. I am not sure that this makes sense--but as I said, I am not sure I agree with the distinction between inter-trans-. AAS is clearly both.