(HO) Musa al-Gharbi–Seizing the Means of Knowledge Production

It was largely a grassroots campaign. It was very deliberate, but also decentralized — with actors from different backgrounds and interests, concerned with different causes, working different institutional levers — learning from, and building upon, the work of one-another over time. Some of the most important tactics included:

They set up tenure lines, degree programs, interdisciplinary centers, academic journals, professional associations, etc. (see the work by Fabio Rojas for an excellent description of the transition From Black Power to Black Studies; see also his HxA blog post and Half Hour of Heterodoxy interview on this research).

They were ecumenical. That is, as opposed to being territorial or puritanical about the specific domains their ideas and methods applied to. For instance, sensitivity training was originally developed specifically to bridge tensions around religion and race. It now includes gender, sexuality, you name it. Instead of just white privilege and male privilege (as originally formulated), there is now cisgender privilege, straight privilege, able-bodied privilege, native-born privilege and many, many more (curiously underdiscussed, of course, is socioeconomic privilege – which is the stage upon which all these conversations take place to begin with). Microaggressions, which were initially about race (and the experience of African Americans in particular), are now implicated in gender, sexuality, fat shaming, ableism, ad infinitum. This was no accident: Derald Wing Sue’s 2007 paper, which led to a renaissance for the microaggression framework, explicitly called for others to adapt the concept in these ways.

Here, the notion of intersectionality is very important. It is the glue which holds it all together – encouraging advocates of any particular cause to see their work as complementary and interrelated with all other (left-aligned) movements. As a result of this approach, concepts like microaggressions, the idea that words amount to violence, calls for safe spaces and trigger warnings, etc. have been able to build upon and feed off one-another despite their disparate origins – creating a complex that encompasses a broad range of causes, stakeholders and institutions (and is, consequently, difficult to displace). As I will demonstrate in a forthcoming essay, a parallel movement for viewpoint diversity, which dates back just as far as any of the other phenomena listed here, has followed a very different trajectory up to now — to its peril.

Read it all.


Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Education, Politics in General