An Overview

Hello hello, everyone!

My name is Yann Dardonville and I’m currently a junior Politics-Spanish double major at Whitman College. As you can probably (and accurately) surmise from my academic interests, I am incredibly excited to be spending a semester in Ecuador studying the interplay between development and political discourse! I hope to write extensively about the political situation with which I will come into contact, as well as the thoughts of the various Ecuadorians (and possibly other nationals) that I meet! Ideally, my blog will be one that gives little newsflashes about what is currently being flung around local media, so look out for those. I also wish to remark on the cultural differences that I find along the course of my stay–having been raised in a French-speaking household in Seattle, I have grown up aware of what it is like to continually straddle forking cultural lines.

Apart from the serious stuff, I’m also gonna throw in some of the fun things I get to do in Ecuador! I love music, theatre, and literature, so I hope to write a lot about it. I am also a fanatical fútbol fan, so prepare to see some photos from that.

My main goals for the semester are:

1) To add a decolonizing edge to my thinking— I realize that I have been grappling with political issues in the context of a highly Westernized and privileged position. Ecuador is interesting: while being very much influenced by neoliberal globalization and western trends, it has a rich and politically potent indigenous (and more generally subaltern) history that has resisted European initiatives for centuries. Moreover, the structure of Kuichua, the Ecuadorian variant of Quechua, quite literally produces a different mode of thinking about the world (and not to forget, Kuichua varies greatly within Ecuador, so the diversity in thought is quite expansive!).

2) To contextualize my learning— There are so many things that you learn in a class, especially in terms of theory, that you never really get a chance to apply hands-on. I just spent an entire semester reading through Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks as well as the writings of neo-Gramscian thinkers, and so I would love to see how Gramsci’s theory might apply in the context of Ecuadorian politics–especially since Gramsci’s mode of analysis depends on specific historical and material conditions!

3) To become completely fluent— I am fortunate to have been raised bilingual, which in turn has greatly facilitated my acquisition of Spanish. I feel quite comfortable discussing Spanish texts in an academic setting a couple times a week, but to be an environment that continually requires that I be in “Spanish mode” will be invaluable to my goal of becoming completely trilingual (although in reality it is important to note that one cannot be perfectly –lingual in any case).

4) To make lifelong connections with people in the country— It is an absolute privilege and pleasure to be able to meet and form friendships with people who have grown up with fundamentally different experiences. I hope to continue interacting with Ecuador long after I finish my study abroad.

These are only just a few of many personal goals I have laid out for myself over the next four months.

Muchas gracias por leer mi blog! (Thank you for reading my blog!)