What is Alliance Work?
Alliance-work, for Richa Nagar, is grounded in deep relationality and trust that allows a continuously unfolding collectivity to emerge as a “blended but fractured we” (Playing with Fire 2006, p. XXXIV). Storytelling as embodied praxis becomes a key vehicle to achieve this relationality. Nagar explains that in this storytelling, each member of the collective does not merely listen to the story of another, but they also ask: “what is my ethical responsibility as a receiver of this story? What can I offer to become an ethical receiver of the story?” In the context of alliance work, such intentional and intense reciprocity requires being, feeling, laughing, crying, remembering, struggling, and rallying together, while also grappling with our limitations, mistakes, and imperfections. This mode of moving and being together in the mind-body-soul allows the collective to achieve a mode of radical vulnerability where all the members are inspired to let go of their stories as well as their egos in order to explore the intricate and contradictory functionings of power as well as the profoundly contextual and nuanced meanings of justice. Far from becoming a standardized tool, such storytelling can become a rigorous and demanding methodology for building contextually grounded knowledges through trust in all the sites where unlearning and relearning may be happening in an alliance -- for example, in activism, in scholarship, in pedagogical work, and in artistry. In converging all the sites where creative living and knowledge making happens, Nagar’s approach to storytelling complicates many pre-defined categories and oppositions including: global and intimate, center and margin, learner and teacher, scholar and peasant, domestic worker and artist (Hungry Translations, forthcoming).