The Gift of Shame
Akbari, Suzanne Conklin
This short confession looks back at the confessional mode of a 2009 article, ‘The Object of Devotion,’ on the impact of religious orientation on my scholarly formation, before turning to a different sort of self-examination: the moment of shame that is at once a source of pain and a generous gift. The inventory offered here concerns not religious orientation but the shame that arises from being wrong. It also casts light on changes that have come to our profession, where racist structures of thought and their administrative and social manifestations have become more visible than before. It’s not that our work environment has changed; rather, the assumptions that were there all along have become visible, and recognizing them – and responding to them – has become imperative. In this way, when I make a confession, and talk about my own shame, it’s in part the product of my own experience, but it is also the product of our common situation. This confession also looks forward to the fruitful outcomes of this experience, including collaborative workshops on indigenous pedagogy, on the role of indigenous story, and on the stories we tell about the land.