Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recently, I visited the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester. As the docent told us a bit about Anthony’s background and work, I could not help but think about Bruno Latour and ANT. Raised a Quaker, she grew up in a community that differed from the mainstream in many ways, but particularly in that women had an equal voice, an equal vote in community decisions. Deeply concerned with the social issues of the day, fairly early on she devoted her life’s work to effecting social change. Lack of suffrage for women was not necessarily the greatest social ill in Anthony’s mind (that may have been slavery) but securing suffrage was the most likely way to influence change in many areas.
As our docent later told us how Anthony focused early on getting suffrage into the constitutions of territories applying for statehood, as opposed to simply lobbying Congress directly to change the law of the land, I could not shake the thought that Anthony had a firm grasp on the principles of agency. She certainly understood that law of the land might reflect the prevailing ‘panorama’ of the day, but also that the ink never truly dries on the Constitution, as long as ‘we the people’ actually exercise our own agency and don’t leave it all to ‘them in Congress.’

So where have you been this Summer when Jane Jacobs or Rebecca Solnit or our friend Bruno have tapped you on the shoulder to get your attention?

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