One of my frustrations with some scholars is that they often take the tip of the iceberg for the whole thing, failing to see that there’s a lot of assumptions and debates below the surface of our claims — even seemingly mundane claims — that support the edifice that we usually see.
Six years ago I took an academic post at a liberal arts college with a heavy teaching load about 4 hours away from Syracuse, New York, where my wife works as a middle school teacher and where we own a home. Consequently, I commute back and forth every week during the fall and spring semesters. Many of my academic friends and colleagues ask me, “Can’t your wife get a job where you work?,” or “You’ve got a good publication record; why don’t you apply for jobs at more research-oriented universities?” Arguably, there are some latent sexist or patriarchal assumptions underlying these questions.
Presumably as someone who identifies as an academic, I have a career — perhaps even a “vocation” — whereas my wife, a public school teacher, has a mere job. Careers have trajectories and involve planning, nurturing, the accumulation of social capital, networking, and so on. A job by contrast could be picked up or discarded for another job which would be its functional equivalent. Why can’t she just swap jobs so I can pursue my career?
Looking for a good example of the arm wrestling match between structure and agency, between authorized systems and the way they’re inevitably contested? Then visit the University of Alabama. Continue reading “Pretty Strategies and Rusty Tactics”
Recognizing the variety of calendars around the world, and thus the different occasions for marking a new year, illustrates the arbitrariness of time and our systems of marking time, which Russell McCutcheon has highlighted recently (here and here). In the context of South Asia, for example, many communities have new year commemorations at different times, primarily based on regional calendars. Continue reading “Arbitrary and Consequential”
Ever wonder how a imperial dominance works? Consider this, admittedly, fun video in which all the objects in the Oxford museum — including the ancient ones! — all know and love Christmas carols. Continue reading “Everyone Loves a Good Christmas Carol, No?”
… you not only name your sports teams after the people your ancestors conquered but taunt the opposing high school football team with witty banners referencing events those vanquished peoples’ descendents consider to be terrible catastrophes inflicted upon their groups by your own predecessors. Continue reading “You Know You’re a Member of a Dominant Group When…”
“Race” is such a problematic, complex term, no? We use it as if it refers to some stable thing (like when we complete a government form) but as soon as we look at its use more closely we realize it is a vague designation for a variety that spans a limitless continuum with no clear internal boundaries. “Race” — as in “What race are you?” — is thus our way of creating the impression of managing what may in fact be unbridled human difference, as if it has nicely defined internal compartments.
Case in point: the fellow above — Alex Sugiura — was featured in a story recently (and another a little before that), on the increasingly mixed race nature of American culture. He’s from Brooklyn but, of course, that’s not where he’s really from, right? Continue reading ““No, Really, Where Are You From?””
A while back a couple Edge posts appeared on the topic of “code switching” (Merinda’s post is here and Monica’s is here). Listening to NPR this morning I heard a story on the NSA’s use of codewords for its various clandestine projects — how it follows longstanding conventions in writing them as one word and in all caps, like SHARKFINN, KEYSTONE, or DISHFIRE — and that made me think again on the topic of code switching. Continue reading ““They’ve Given You a Number and Taken Away Your Name””
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So opened The National Post‘s September 10, 2013, article on the Canadian province of Quebec’s recent (and for some, rather controversial) Charter of Quebec Values, along with the accompanying picture of the Premiere, Pauline Marois, joined by Bernard Drainville, the Minister Responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship. Continue reading “The Natural Look”