This is but a mere intro to a much longer dialogue I will be having with myself, hopefully for the rest of my life...
Will and I went on a little date tonight, and on the way to Gaupos (where else, amigas??) we were discussing what a precarious trail we trod as individuals hoping to engage in human rights policy development and legal work. We were talking about trafficking in persons and the complications that arise as a result of Westerners not taking Khmer constructions of femininity into account when trying to implement counter-trafficking policies. (Yes, this is dinner convo- seven years and going strong!) Both of us in our time abroad, him in Arusha dealing with fallout from the Rwanda 1994 genocide and me in Cambodia, saw the problems caused by Western practitioners applying 'fixes' to things we decide are 'problems'. I am in the midst of pursuing work in conflict analysis and resolution, and want to make sure I keep this in the forefront of my mind as I go forward in my coursework.
As with most things Will and I discuss, the conversation quickly came to Star Trek. We both agree that we have a much greater respect for the Prime Directive as a result of our brief but glorious stints abroad. I am not saying that Khmer or Rwandan culture are pre-warp, far from it (although seriously, my Khmer pals, puh-lease, embrace the wonders of cuisine flavored with more than just lemongrass and tarragon). Rather, I am saying that we need to be more respectful of other cultures as we waltz into situations thinking that we can 'improve' them by applying our own definitions of better.
Much more thoughts on this in days, weeks, and light-years to come.
-Number One out