#oscarssowhite: did you watch the show?

I warily watched the opening ceremony, and felt some relief that Chris Rock managed to call out at least the implicit racism (“the sorority racism:  we really like you but you are just not a kappa”) in Hollywood.  Every once in a while I turned the TV back on:  racism was a major topic.

here’s the transcript of Chris Rock’s opening monologue.

  1. The NY Times chief films critics discussed the ceremony here.  The beginning of their discussion:

MANOHLA DARGIS Our national nightmare is over: The 2016 Academy Awards are history. They were also history, too, just because for a few minutes Chris Rock tore the smiling mask off of the industry. Unlike most Oscar hosts, who just have to ease us through another grindingly dull show, he had a tough job Sunday night because everyone knew he had to confront #OscarsSoWhite, which he initially did pretty brilliantly.

Because while at first it seemed as if Mr. Rock was going to go easy on the room, with soft laughs about the “White People’s Choice Awards,” you could feel the room begin to cool when he started dropping words like “raping” and “lynching.” Rarely have the cutaways to the audience seemed as surreal. It was as if a chasm had suddenly opened between this single black performer and all those increasingly uneasy white people. The industry likes to obscure its racism and sexism, but its inequities and hollow insistence that the only color it cares about is green have become untenable as more people speak out. So, I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed watching that room squirm.

Firing Melissa Click was messed up, and you don’t have to like what she did to think so.

As I’m sure you already know, Melissa Click was fired from the University of Missouri on account of her conduct during the student protests last fall.  Faculty at Mizzou have already raised concerns about due process. I think those concerns are legitimate and worrisome irrespective of whether or not you think, at the end of the day, firing would have been the right thing to do.

But forget, just for a moment, about whether or not you think Click’s behavior contravened her duties as a professor, or what would have happened were her due process rights fully respected and consider this, from earlier this month, by way of contrast:

“A UCLA history professor involved in an ongoing Title IX lawsuit reached an agreement with UCLA that will allow him to return to teach.”

And what exactly is this lawsuit about? Two students accused a professor of sexual assault. Here’s what happened before UCLA decided to help him return to teaching:

[A]n earlier, independent investigation by UCLA found enough evidence to warrant a litany of punitive actions for Piterberg. Yet according to the settlement agreement that Takla and Glasgow’s lawyer released last week, Piterberg was given only a slap on the wrist – he paid the UC Board of Regents $3,000, was suspended last spring quarter and participated in a sexual harassment training session. The only other punishments set for Piterberg were just as inconsequential: He may now only speak with students during open-door office hours and cannot try to establish any romantic or otherwise inappropriate relationships with students.

But, as it turned out, the punishment was even less stringent than it sounds. Piterberg’s spring quarter suspension was spent in Europe as a fellow at the European University Institute. While it is unclear if UCLA knew of this fellowship before administering the punishment, the fact remains that a professor accused of sexually assaulting students got to spend his quarter off in Europe and return to the university 10 weeks later.

Well, that’s at UCLA, you might say — and Click was at Mizzou. Yes. But then there’s this story. And this one. And this one. Oh, and this one (I’d keep going, but this could quickly get very depressing).  As for Mizzou itself, it doesn’t have a great record of appropriately handling sexual misconduct. In the recent AAU survey, students at Mizzou reported the third highest rate of having been subject to sexual misconduct. They’ve received attention from Outside the Lines for their handling of misconduct by student athletes, including violence against women. And the university itself admitted in 2014 that it screwed up by failing to investigate the alleged rape of Sasha Menu Courey, who committed suicide a little over a year after the alleged incident. None of that resulted in a national outcry. None of that resulted in the state legislature threatening to cut the university’s budget.

In academia, students’ cameras are treated as more sacred than students’ bodies. And whether or not you think Melissa Click was in the wrong, that seems pretty messed up.

Call for Applications – Concurrences and Connections: Beyond Eurocentrism

Concurrences and Connections: Beyond Eurocentrism

PhD Summer School, Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies

15-19 August, 2016

The past and the present are full of concurrences. Events happen simultaneously in the same place as well as in different places, and are interpreted differently by those who experience them. But what does this really mean to researchers of the humanities and the social sciences? How do we bring broader contexts and connections, which may not have been initially visible, into our re-understandings of these same events? What difference do different interpretations make to what we had initially known and how might we know differently in light of those different interpretations?

This one-week summer school for PhD students will explore key concepts and paradigms within the Humanities and Social Sciences from postcolonial and decolonial perspectives. Such arguments have been most successful in their challenge to the insularity of historical narratives and historiographical traditions emanating from Europe. This has been particularly so in the context of demonstrating the parochial character of arguments about the endogenous European origins of modernity in favour of arguments that suggest the necessity of considering the emergence of the modern world, and its associated categories and concepts, in the broader histories of colonialism, empire, and enslavement.

The broad themes to be covered in the summer school include:

  • Challenging Knowledge: Postcolonial and Feminist Provocations
  • Contesting the Time(s) of History
  • Black Europe & the Politics of Knowledge Production
  • Citizenship, Migration, Race, and Justice
  • Towards a Decolonial Social Science

The summer school is oriented to examining theoretical claims and frameworks that are in everyday use and rethinking them using the resources of critical scholarship. It will also provide space for thinking through contemporary social and political issues that require urgent engagement. It is organised in terms of an opening conversation among established colleagues in the field followed by general discussion of the themes set out. There will also be facilitated workshops on key texts, independent work spaces where students are given the opportunity to present their own research for comment by other scholars, and a closing conversation that will bring together the themes of each day.

The following scholars will be among those present during the workshop: Professor Gurminder K Bhambra; Dr Nathaniel Coleman; Dr Sara Edenheim; Dr Barzoo Eliassi; Professor Peter Forsgren; Professor Gunlög Fur; Dr Ylva Habel; Professor Peo Hansen; Professor John Holmwood; Dr Robbie Shilliam.

There is no fee for attending the summer school although students will be required to cover the cost of their own travel and accommodation. If you are unable to access local funds to cover the cost of your travel and accommodation, you can apply for a bursary to Concurrences to facilitate your attendance.

To apply please send the following to Åse Magnusson ase.magnusson[at]lnu.se by 5pm on 1st April 2016

  1. A letter of application of no more than 1 page explaining why you wish to attend the summer school including how you think it may help you with your current research
  2. A 1-page CV
  3. A short abstract, no more than one page, of a piece of current research you would like to present at the summer school

Bursaries: If you are not able to access local funds to attend, please explain why and detail the amount you would need to able to attend the summer school. Please note that funds are extremely limited and we would expect you to fund attendance through your own university budgets. We will make decisions on bursaries based on financial need and merit of the application.

Students taking this course are welcome to apply for credits through their home institution.

**The deadline for applications is 1st April 2016**



Thoughts from an assault survivor in philosophy

An anonymous guest post:


Over the last few years, the the philosophical community has begun to take public notice of sexual harassment and abuse in our profession. On the whole, this is A Good Thing: It’s hard to address as a profession a problem we pretend doesn’t exist.


But, as is so often the case when the topic of the abuse of women is raised, not all of these discussions have been constructive. There has been a lot of skeptical speculation: “The allegations can’t be true because Professor is clever, well-educated—he’s too smart to put himself at risk”, “they can’t be true because he’s too good-looking, too well-situated in life. Why would he harass someone, rape someone? He must meet loads of interested women”, “the alleged victim has a boyfriend, a husband—she’s lying to cover up a consensual relationship”, “she’s probably just mad he dumped her”, “the alleged victim didn’t complain to the university right away, didn’t call the police—a real victim would never do that”, “I know Professor; he’s a good guy. He would never do a thing like that; if he had, I would have known, there would have been some sign”, and on, and on.


Listening to these discussions, online, on the various blogs and on facebook, at conferences and other professional/social events, I often find myself wondering what impression such speculation makes on victims, who are there among us, whether we know it or not. My speculation, though, isn’t entirely idle. You see, I am a professional philosopher, a senior woman. And when I was in grad school, I was raped by another philosopher.


For the survivors:


The single, most important thing for you to know is it gets better. I remember quite well the aftermath; the feeling of unreality, as if you aren’t quite fully connected to your body. And the feeling of incredible fragility, as if brushing up against another object would cause you to shatter into small pieces. I remember the confusion, the unwillingness to accept that this is something that really happened to you because….well, how could that happen to you? How could another human being do this to you, torture you for his sexual pleasure? And the months of brain fog, the insomnia, the sudden bouts of paralyzing anxiety. The bizarre feeling of deep shame that makes no sense. I remember.


It seems like it will never end. But I promise you, I PROMISE you, it gets better. The fog will lift. You will think again. And, if you choose, you will be a philosopher again. I count myself as a moderately successful philosopher; I am in a research-oriented department; I love my colleagues; they are generous and kind. And I love what I do; I love my students and I love my work. And there are many others out there just like me. We’re aren’t particularly heroic, we don’t have special abilities, we don’t have super strength. But we made it through this. Victims can make it through this.

In saying this, that recovery is absolutely possible, I do not mean to suggest that it is easy. Getting better can be hard work, work that is made a lot easier with the help of supportive friends and professionals. If you continue to have trouble with anxiety, depression, or insomnia, please seek the help of a professional who is trained to help survivors. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN, https://rainn.org/get-help/help-a-loved-one ) is a good place to start. Please, please take care of yourself.


For the speculators:


Gossip can be fun. I get that. I imagine a few folks in our profession enjoy gossip regardless of its consequences. But I’m betting most folks aren’t like this. Most of us, I imagine, would most like to put an end to the victimization of women in our discipline. And I bet most of us recognize that part of what is required to make that happen is for victims to come forward.


So, let me tell you what a rehearsal of the near-platitudes of dismissal I mentioned above sound like to survivors who are standing right there, I promise you, when you utter them or stand there quietly when you hear someone else do so. The translation is: “I very much doubt these allegations, despite the fact that I am not acquainted with the parties at all, don’t know the particulars, and don’t even have any idea who the complainant is. Nonetheless, I do not believe her.” When you do this, you make it rational for victims to hide. You want to know why a victim didn’t complain to the university, didn’t go to the police, or didn’t go right away? Review these conversations in your head and you have your answer. You, when you casually dismiss serious allegations or when you stand there silently while others do, demonstrate the pointlessness of speaking out. You are the reason victims do not advocate for themselves.


It is within our power to fix this problem. But we need to stand up, speak up. I hope that now you know, you do.

Jason Stanley on the Free-Speech Fallacy

The focus of the piece is on claims by Jonathan Haidt and others who are part of the Heterodox Academy that academia needs to be diversified by the addition of conservative voices.  Stanley responds:

The political diversity at issue in the writings of Heterodox Academy members is the narrow spectrum between liberals and conservatives. These categories are occasionally used as if they naturally corresponded to “Democrat” and “Republican.” This bizarrely narrow view of political diversity conveniently fits into an argument to hire conservatives, but not Marxists or critical race theorists. “Liberal” and “leftist” are used interchangeably throughout their writings, as if there isn’t a feminist critique of liberalism. Where are the Marxists or feminists in economics, a discipline that is, according to Haidt, “the only social science that has some real diversity”?

In a 2014 paper published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, a Heterodox Academy member and professor of law at Georgetown University, decries liberal overrepresentation in law schools. But again, most feminists, Marxists, and critical race theorists do not identify as liberals, and law schools notoriously lack advocates of these standard leftist positions. This failing of political diversity is rendered invisible by the partisan setup of this research program.

Ideology and bias


Ideology is a key factor in determining how people assess the credibility of scientific researchers, according to a new UBC Sauder School of Business study.

People who tend toward an elitist world view are more inclined to judge white male researchers as more credible, while people who ascribe to egalitarian beliefs are the opposite: they’re more likely to judge women or people of colour as more credible researchers.

For more, go here.

Whose anger is real?

Myisha Cherry:


What has been problematic about the use of anger in the media these days is the asymmetry that exists: we tend to view the anger of privileged groups (whites or male) as real and the anger of disadvantaged groups (women and minorities) as irrational or imagined. This is not new but part of a long history of emotional dismissal and the privileging of different groups to feel outlaw emotions (i.e. anger) while policing and shunning other groups (usually minorities) for feeling the same.

SCP to host prayer service addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault within the philosophical community at the Central APA

The announcement from the Society of Christian Philosophers:

Sexual harassment and assault have been serious problems within our discipline for a long time; currently, there is a great deal of anger and dismay within the philosophical community over the extent and severity of these continuing problems, the lack of open acknowledgment of the issues, and the primary and secondary harms to which victims have been subject. One of the biggest frustrations for many is the lack of visible displays of support for victims, particularly on the part of more established scholars.

With this in mind, in connection with its other continuing efforts to address this issue, and in full recognition of the fact that this is barely a beginning, the Society of Christian Philosophers is holding an ecumenical service of lament and prayer for those affected by sexual harassment and assault within the philosophical community at the Central APA: 8pm on Thursday, March 3, in the SCP suite (location will be posted here). Services of prayer form an important part of the Christian tradition of standing in solidarity with those who are suffering, of opposing the behaviors and institutional structures that contribute to their suffering, of reflecting together on our own individual or corporate complicity with perpetrators, and of lamenting the injustice done. Such prayer does not discharge our moral responsibility for the situations and structures we are part of and work within, and it is no substitute for action–rather, it functions as a reminder that we never act alone, but are always empowered by God when we work for justice and strive to create hospitable institutions to house creative work.

Anyone and everyone is welcome to join us for this service, which will be led by Marilyn McCord Adams and will last approximately 30 minutes.  Those who have questions about the service or would like to see the liturgy are welcome to contact Marilyn McCord Adams, Michael Rea, or Christina Van Dyke.

David Livingstone Smith, on Trump

Trump understands far more clearly than any of his competitors that politicians are salvation peddlers, and he uses that insight to great effect.

I doubt that this is deliberate or calculated. Rather, it seems more like a salesman’s gut understanding of human psychology. And it’s because he successfully positions himself as a savior that those who are hooked on Trump are prepared to turn a blind eye to his shortcomings, incoherencies, and his uneasy relationship with reality.

But how did Trump come to be a savior?

The first task of an aspiring savior is to convince people that they need to be saved. To do this, Trump uses the same rhetorical techniques as Adolf Hitler did during the 1930s.

I understand how incendiary the comparison is, so I use it advisedly — and with respect to this specific talent, if you can call it that, of both men.

For more, go here.