Turning power into (b)ordering
Place as locale

Examples for discussing transgression and resistance

In the Learning Assessments, a lot of students had questions about transgression and resistance. The following examples may help to think through and apply these concepts in concrete ways. Feel free to respond to any or all in comments:

  • First, this article reports on a study of traffic laws and bicycling in Chicago. According to the study, what normal practice do many bicyclists transgress? Why is this transgressive and not merely novel? To what extent does the study show that ideas of normal are changing? What transformation of roads are some people advocating for because of what this study shows about bicyclists?
  • Second, this article reports on a game in Berlin that involves smashing CCTV cameras. What makes this game novel? Would you also characterize this game as transgressive or resistant? Why or why not? How is this game different from the hide-and-seek example from class?
  • This article reports on the "modest fashion movement" among primarily young women and largely based in the U.S. Does dressing "modestly," in the way the subjects of the article do, count as novel, or is this in the range of normal? If you see this action as novel, would you also say that the women in the article are also acting transgressively or in resistance? If so, transgressive or resistant of what?
  • Finally, in this essay, writer Dina Nayeri, writes about her experience as an Iranian refugee in the U.S. and parts of western Europe. What does she tell you about what it feels like to be a refugee in the U.S.? How do she make herself "normal"? What has led her to transgress and resist those expectations? How does she transgress and resist? What does Nayeri's story demonstrate about the power of representation (of language and words)?


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Katie Hansen

In response to the Bicycle Laws in Chicago article: What?! As I live in a community that sees a lot of bicyclists, I believe that they should have to obey traffic laws. I have seen too many times where a bicyclist blatantly disregards a stop sign and rides out into the intersection causing people to slam on their brakes. I do, however, agree that bicyclists are more difficult to see and I could see how, in big cities, waiting for traffic to start moving again could be a bigger risk. My fear would be that since bicyclists already feel some sort of entitlement on the road (from my observations) this would encourage them to be even less cautious about the traffic around them. Yes they are more vulnerable but they can also stop a lot easier than a car/truck.

Matt Herbert

In the bicycle article, the normative practice has been that bicyclists are to follow traffic laws and stop and stop signs and red lights. People transgress this when they disregard the traffic laws and continue through anyway. It seems the idea to change the laws and allow people to make an "Idaho stop," (meaning they can treat stop lights and stop signs as a yield signs) they are trying to make something novel into something normative. I agree with Katie in that having bicycles follow traffic laws might make the actions more predictable and thus be more preventative of collisions. However, having taken a driver education instructor's course a couple summers ago, I know driver's also transgress the law and fail to yield, check blind spots, etc. I think it is up to both the driver and the bicyclist to communicate with each other, yield when necessary, and not transgress when something becomes normative as in the instance of safety.


I actually thought that the bicycle article made some really interesting points. Although I don’t agree that they should just be able to always ignore red lights and stop signs I do think that some form of a comprimise might be in everyone’s best interest. Biking in Portland Oregon is a much different experience than driving in it. Although there are many bike lanes there are still some intersections that feel less then safe when in the bike lane. Being able, by law to continue on before the car next to you turns right into you has some benefits too it. I think that a compromise that made it solely the bikers responsibility to understand when it is and isn’t safe to go, with some new rules of the road for bikers could potentially be safer for all involved. Although I believe something like this should be researched a lot more to fully understand what would be the safest for everyone.

Sam Combs

I read the fashion article and I found it super cool up until the ties of fashion support and religion. I do not think that religion and fashion correlate that hard in America at least. There are some religions where it is better to be modest yes, however I do not think there are religious groups that bash on fashion trends. I think people who bash on fashion trends might be tied to a religion, but it does not reflect on the religion.

Kaylee Mok

I read the article about the "modest fashion movement." I don't believe that the way they choose to dress is novel. But I came from a religious upbringing so I know the struggle of finding modest fashionable clothing. This "movement" has been going on for ages and I don't think that choosing to cover up more counts as very novel. Though to someone else who grew up in a different "culture", it may be novel.

Yazmin Hernandez Alvarez

I read the article by Dina Nayeri. In this article she shares her experience of being a refugee as a young child. She shares stories of her childhood and how she was bullied. She shares that she was bullied once the children in her school found out she was different. She was often made fun of and yelled mean things. She recalls once being bullied by these to kids, she got her little finger slammed by the door because those kids did not like her for being different. She shares that from that experience on she changed her appearance and attempted to hide her culture. Over time she began to assimilate and loose her culture, she noted that her accent was lost. To assimilate she was to loose her culture and always share her story of gratefulness for being able to come here. She realized that that is what people wanted to here her gratitude to be here nothing else. "we sensed the ongoing expectation that we would shed our old skin, give up our former identities – every quirk and desire that made us us – and that we would imply at every opportunity that America was better, that we were so lucky, so humbled to be here” (Nayeri)

Madison Overholser

Yazmin, I also read that article and I cannot believe all those horrible things that happened to the author! It is truly unfortunate that we still live in a world where people are ignorant and intolerant to people who are different from them. I believe that no one should feel forced to change who they are, what they wear, or conform for the sake of others. Nayeri did not feel represented because of the power in this country have chosen to only represent some people and not all. It is especially hard right now for refuges that fled the middle east because some people in this country are still harboring prejudices and ignorance.

Ana Bautista

I read the Bicycle Laws in Chicago article I don’t agree that they should just be able to always ignore red lights and stop signs. I do think they are harder to see, but I believe that could easily be fixed by wearing bring clothes of even having lights on their bikes. This is transgress because they are not necessarily doing it on purpose they do it because they have to.

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