What is Ambivigilante?

Concerning blogtitle: “Ambivigilante”: an Explanation

“Ambivigilante” is a combination of the words “ambivilance” and “vigilante” to signify a particular “standpoint” (see scholars Nancy Hartstock, Patricia Hill Collins, etc. “standpoint theory”) from which I intend to write.

Ambivilance: a state of having simultaneous, conflicting feelings toward a person or thing. The word “ambivalent” derives from the Latin prefix ambi, meaning “both”, and “valence” which is derived from the Latin valentia, meaning “strength”. Ambivalence is experienced as psychologically unpleasant when the positive and negative aspects of a subject are both present in a person’s mind at the same time. This state can lead to avoidance or procrastination, or to deliberate attempts to resolve the ambivalence. (via Wikipedia)

Vigilante: a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate); broadly : a self-appointed doer of justice (via Webster’s Dictionary)

While both of these definitions are used more commonly, I am using these words a little differently–both on their own and when combined. I use “ambivalence” to signify the tendency to look for complexities and beyond binaries–for the binary-minded, this often translates to the so-called “positive and negative aspects,” but for me “ambivalence” means more than simply “looking at both sides”—it means obscuring the notion that the sides exist clearly or solely at all. Thus, I aim to point to that (often paralyzing) space of complexity and ambivilence to urge and push myself (and readers) to examine the gaps, the silences, and the problems in/with the narratives that we are presented with more commonly.

…but overcoming the (often inevitable) paralyzing effect critical examination has on the body is something I’m simultaneously consumed by–and that is were the “vigilante” part comes in. I am not making a case for taking “justice” (however that is being defined) “into our own hands” (vaguely arguing for creating my own police force or advocating for some vague violence against whoever is the current culprit), no. Instead, I use “vigilante” to mean someone who must act outside of the confines of “legitimate” ways of thinking/acting about/on “justice,” “peace,” or “reform” due to having positioned themselves (via standpoint) outside of or as an alternative to thinking that is at once structuralist, dichotomous, or otherwise limiting. This blog is a poststructural project.


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