Violent land evictions in Brazil

Survival for Tribal Peoples reports that in one incident, Terena Indians had returned to live on their ancestral land, which now belongs to a rancher who is also a politician. The police turned up and carried out a violent eviction, killing one and wounding others. There are fears that there will be similar violence at the site of the Belo Monte Dam project, where Kayapo, Arara, Munduruku, and Xipaia Indians are currently protesting. Tribal peoples are supposed to be consulted about the use of their land before any decisions are made, but the government appears to have been pandering to powerful agricultural and mining lobbies who seek to undermine these rights.

CFP: Emancipation

A partial quote from the announcement:

Hypatia: AJournal of Feminist Philosophy Special Issue:

Emancipation: Rethinking Subjectivity, Power and Change

Volume 30, Issue 3, Summer 2015
Guest Editor: Susanne Lettow, University of Paderborn (Germany)

Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy seeks contributions for a special issue on “Emancipation: Rethinking Subjectivity, Power and Change.” ‘Emancipation’ is one of the most iridescent concepts of political language and has – from the late eighteenth century on – inspired feminist politics, theory and critique. While the concept of emancipation almost vanished from political discourse in the wake of the critiques of the ambivalent legacies of the Enlightenment and Modernity, the concept resurfaces again in the present which is shaped by the multiple and highly gendered crises of politics, economies, nature and culture. A re-evaluation of ‘emancipation’ and its political and philosophical implications from a feminist perspective is thus imperative.

For the full announcement, go here.

CFP: Race, Gender, Hate Speech

The second annual Dorothy Edgington Lectures will be given by Professor Rae Langton
January 24th-25th 2014, Birkbeck College, LONDON

As well as giving two public lectures, Rae Langton will lead a 2 day graduate workshop on race and gender hate speech, and closely related topics. We invite submissions on these topics, from graduate and postgraduate students, to be presented at the workshop.


1st October 2013

(1) Papers should be no more than 3,000 words (including footnotes, excluding bibliography), to be presented in 30 minutes
(2) They should be prepared for blind refereeing
(3) They should include a cover-sheet, with the title, an abstract, your name, institution affiliation, and student status
(4) They should be formatted with 1.5 spacing, 10pt font, and saved as .pdfs, or .doc (not .docx)
(5) Send all submissions to:

Accommodation for student speakers will be available with members of the department.

Workshop registration is free for graduate students, but there are limited spaces – to register for either the workshop or the lectures email: edgingtonlectures AT

For more information, go here.

Rebecca Kukla in 3 AM Magazine

With some very nice words for FP’s work on behalf of women in philosophy, but also some important points about other directions that efforts to diversify should take:

The overwhelming whiteness of philosophy is staggering, and I think it leads to insular thinking that harms philosophy itself, as well as being self-perpetuatingly exclusionary in fairly obvious ways.

More controversially, perhaps, she suggests that we should devote less attention to the maleness of philosophy in order to pay more attention to the whiteness of philosophy. (A part of me said: why can’t we just do both? Then I reflected more on the limitations of time constraints, and thought perhaps she’s just being realistic.)

But– as one the strongest defenders of the Be Nice rule– I deeply don’t agree with this:

Third, let me go on record as saying that I think that the whole idea that women are put off by or unsuited to the aggressive, argumentative style of philosophy is crap. Discursive intensity and tenacity, a high premium on verbal sparring and cleverness, and a fundamentally critical dialogical method have been central to philosophy since its birth, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The fact is, most people, regardless of gender, find that kind of discourse difficult, overwhelming, and somewhat threatening; the Athenians didn’t crack out the hemlock for no reason. This is why most people should not be philosophers, and that’s just fine.

Now, I don’t actually know whether women are put off by aggressive argumentative style. But I am firmly convinced that it’s bad for philosophy. It is more than possible to be critical and careful and to raise objections without being an arsehole. And guess what? Better philosophy ends up being done. Far too much philosophical discussion is more about showing that one is more clever than the speaker (or the objector) rather than trying to understand shit. This is one of many truly great things I have learned from my colleagues at Sheffield. (And why yes, one can still swear a lot while advocating niceness. In fact, I find it fucking irresistible.)

UPDATE: Here’s the interview. (Sorry!)

‘Mx’ in Brighton

Got all excited when I read a student essay telling me that Brighton is introducing ‘Mx’ as a title and making it the only title to be used in all council paperwork. Sadly, it seems they decided not to do that. Instead, they’re adding it as an additional title for those who reject the gender binary. Still good, but not as good to my mind as dropping all titles that tell you gender or marital status. It does, however, come along with a broader commitment to being trans-friendly, and that’s great.

Protecting children from internet pornography

A call for better sex education:

A report released on Thursday by the commissioner’s office found that children who watch pornography are more likely to develop sexually risky behaviour and become sexually active at a younger age.

It called for urgent action to “develop children’s resilience to pornography” after discovering that a significant number have access to sexually explicit images. It also called on the Department for Education to ensure all schools delivered effective relationship and sex education, including how to use the internet safely.

I’m really pleased to see this. I naively thought when I first came to the UK that students here would have far superior sex ed to what students in the US have. Years of conversations with my students have shown me otherwise. None of them have been taught such basic things as that sex should be enjoyable for everyone involved, and that you should make sure that the person you’re having sex with is happy about it. (My favourite student anecdote was about one school where the girls were taken into a room to watch a film about menstruation while the boys watched a film about cars.) Thanks, Mr J!

Reader query about response to sexual harassment

A reader writes:

I don’t know if this normal sexual harassment policy or if my school is just off its rocker. Since I have had issues with the administration before, such that I quit a few months ago and am merely finishing up the term, I think they are treating this inappropriately, but I wanted some input. A student posted publically, in the class’s online forum, some personal messages to one of the female students. They were kind of strange; he said that he missed her and asked where she was. The girl doesn’t know this boy, and I figured that just based on their lack of class interaction, and his strangeness in relationship to the conversations I have had with him after class and his forum posts made me think something was a bit off.
It turns out that this student had emailed the female student in my class a bunch of sexually graphic messages in the private online messaging center in the education management system the school has. When this came to my attention I told the student that I was reporting the information, and I would not let him in the class because she felt uncomfortable. He showed up to class five minutes late, and as politely as I could be, and without providing too much detail told him he couldn’t come into the class, but that I, or someone else, would contact him in a couple of days regarding the public posting. I didn’t mention the private messages for fear of escalation. I walked back in the classroom. The student continued to remain outside the door, and this made me nervous, so I decided to call the campus police. The student then walks in, sits down, and with his hands, by making the hang-up the phone gesture, tells me to hang up the phone. Of course, I am terrified at this point and I reach for my cell phone and call 911 because the campus police dispatch still have me on hold. He does this for a minute or two and then leaves the classroom. I have the students barricade the door while we wait for the police, on a campus I could walk in less than five minutes (it took the police over 10 minutes to get there). But the doors open outward and lock from the outside, so we are just holding the doors in. The student then comes back and tries to get back in the classroom, and keeps loitering outside the classroom and trying to peek in until the police come. It is after the police come that things seem to go insane in a way I didn’t think that they could.
The police keep saying that they cannot prove the student sent the emails, and at one point the officer demands my class list in order to make sure some other student isn’t in my class. I wasn’t made privy to why, but perhaps he is an email hacker. So, here is a situation in which the female student doesn’t know the male student, she has sexually graphic emails from him, and he is acting aggressively and threatening toward me when I don’t let him in the class. The dean of student affairs, and the go to person for sexual harassment is in there the whole time with the officer. She isn’t comforting to the student. She is acting like this is not a serious incident and comes in all cocky and starts playing drum on the table with her fingers. I think to myself, what a lack of sensitivity; and even the girl says to me, “I feel like I have to prove he sent these emails.” We are both asking what her safety on campus will be, to which we aren’t given very comforting answers. Finally she goes, by the way no one offered to walk her to her car, and I am asked to write up a letter to the dean of student affairs (the woman who came in a decided to play drum on the table) who will pass it on to campus police.
The outcome of the situation is that the student has been dropped from my class, but he can be on campus and attend his other classes while this investigated. I am told that the reason he came back into my classroom was because he misunderstood and thought I was coming back out to talk to him. I think, how can a ‘get off the phone gesture’ and trying to re-enter the classroom again after I am calling the police while the doors are barricaded and the other students are yelling at him to leave, be seen as a miscommunication. The dean of student affairs tells me that she has to be concerned for his rights and that the dean of the social science department will attend my class next Wednesday, as if that’s enough. So, I feel like, this is a clear cut case of sexual harassment by someone who has aggressive tendencies, and basically the only evidence this girl has is in question, not to mention how many times they asked if she knew this guy; and it seems his actions in the classroom don’t matter. I think, and I am not sure, and this is why I am asking, if he had said, bomb, or gun, he would have been not allowed on campus during this investigation. Any advice or thoughts would be deeply appreciated.

Guardian Witness: New shoots of student feminism

From the Guardian Witness (part of the UK-based Guardian newspaper’s website):

Lad culture appears to permeate all aspects of student life – from Facebook newsfeedsto the debating chamber of Glasgow University. But women are fighting back – or at least that’s what the recent surge in the number of student feminist societies suggests.

From burnt bras to feminist graffiti and event flyers, we want to see the shoots of the new feminism on your campus. Share your images and videos.

Well, go on, then! Head over there and share!