Annotation: Experience

Annotation: Scott, Joan: “Experience”

In Joan W. Scott’s Experience, one is offered insight into the complexities of experience as a historical utility and methodology for producing forms of knowledge and theories. Scott says that “evidence of experience, whether conceived through a metaphor of visibility or in any other way that takes meaning as transparent, reproduces rather than contest given ideological systems” (pg. 273). In other words, Scott is arguing that “experience,” as well as our explanations and understandings of it, has been used to support the narrative which in turn is supports the evidence and only perpetuates a system where “experience” is viewed as an objective resource capable of providing insight into how the world works. Scott highlights that the reality is “experience works as a foundation providing both a starting point and a conclusive kind of explanation” for theories and practices in this world. This pushes the idea that our understanding and utilization of “experience” in academia and in history should go beyond reifying ideas but should be looked at through a lens that explains how the world creates these “experiences” (pg. 277).  In the end, Scott aims to show that our understanding of experience needs to be redefined using language as “situating and contextualizing that language that one historicizes the terms by which experience is represented, and so historicizes ‘experience’ itself” (pg. 279). If “experience is not a word we can do without,” we must understand that it plays a part in language and the two go hand in hand with each other (pg. 280). In the end, “experience” is not the origin of our explanation, but that which we want to explain” and therefore, we must have the language to do so (pg. 280). However, what experiences do we deem principle to receive an explanation and who / what is authorizing which experiences are deemed explainable.