Forming a ‘We’ through a good-quality conversation

TitleForming a ‘We’ through a good-quality conversation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsGumede, J1Mellett, P
Refereed DesignationRefereed
JournalEducational Journal of Living Theories
Start Page23
Date Published06/2019
Type of ArticleLiving Theory

Many Living Theory papers are jointly authored and written with a voice that uses the collective pronoun ‘We’. By what process can separate, isolated ‘I’s claim to become a composite ‘We’? This paper discusses the process by which its authors – two initially separate authoring voices – came to feel able to claim that they can speak as a believable and authentic ‘We’. The process of that merging develops around the concept of a ‘goodquality conversation’. The authors come from two radically different cultural traditions which they describe as the ‘oralate’ culture of South Africa that predominated before the spread of 19th century colonialism (JG) and the ‘literate’ culture of Western Europe that developed from the 17th century Enlightenment (PM). Starting with the production of intersecting autobiographical accounts, they form their ‘We’ by progressively helping each other to ‘get on the inside’ of each other’s culture. In Living Theory terms, this is the process of each author’s educational influence on the other. Engaging with de Santos’ (1997) ideas of intercultural translation and with Jousse (1997) they seek “…discoveries [that] consist in the bringing together of ideas susceptible to being connected, which have hitherto been isolated” (p.49) to create a shared form of knowledge.” Coming together to speak as ‘We’ also involves the identification of shared values and their expression in each of the author’s separate lived contexts. These shared values lead them to identify a commonality within the tenets of Ubuntu – a person is a person through other persons – on which they base questions that have relevance for the future flourishing of Humanity.

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