Cue the Sparkly Distraction

Question: How do you prepare a generation to come to grips with economic realities that are rather different than what their immediate predecessors might have taken for granted?

Like, say…, someone currently in the (dwindling) middle class — you know, someone with enough income to be able to save some of it — and thus someone who assumes that they’ll retire at 65 (or maybe even younger), just like dear old dad did…? Continue reading “Cue the Sparkly Distraction”

Response: Center and Periphery

Picture 3Earlier this week Stephen S. Bush responded to one of my posts on his recent monograph, Visions of Religion. In my post I suggested that Bush’s work arguably props up the status quo in our field, and as such he could resort to rhetorical enthymemes that leave certain assumptions unstated and unargued — particularly since sympathetic readers in the mainstream of the field already share those assumptions. In his response Bush claims that I’m unfair to him, since he did provide argumentation for the assertions or assumptions I claimed were unstated or unargued. In addition, he objected to my characterization of his work as representing the center of the field. According to Bush, my work — which focuses on discourse analysis, ideology critique, and power — is closer to the center of the field, and his work — which includes a focus on experience and meaning — is more likely to be considered passé and thus on the periphery. Continue reading “Response: Center and Periphery”

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Ideology

In the midst of the current presidential race here in the U.S., with all the rhetoric about who’s out and who’s in (whether the framework in question regards presidential contenders or who has access to the citizenship that would allow a person to vote for them), I thought it might be time to share one of my favorite clips from A Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, one that I use in my classes quite a bit, in which Slavoj Žižek discusses the seeming universality of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and, in particular, the “Ode to Joy”. “Unity” is always manufactured by exercising certain exclusions. A good thing to keep in mind during this presidential cycle as more candidates start dropping out and more political ads keep rolling in.

Strategic Ideologies

(1882)_MAP_OF_THE_TRIBES_OF_INDIAPrompted by the discussion surrounding Rachel Dolezal’s NAACP resignation, this series of posts is about how and when we take performativity seriously…, and when it bows to interests in historical or experiential specificity.

Race, as many have pointed out for years, is not biological. This point raises questions about the basis on which it is determined. Is it ancestry, appearance, cultural practice, or something else? That complicated question has come to greater prominence in light of the media circus around Rachel Dolezal and her assertion of an African-American identification. While discussions of Dolezal often focus on the process of self-identification and strategic choices made in relation to that self-identification, I want to focus, instead, on the strategic nature of the act of ascribing identification to someone else. Continue reading “Strategic Ideologies”

Only What’s on the Menu

fiveeasypiecesFor a long time my wife and I worked at different universities, in different U.S. states, and it required some long distance driving when we got together, which in turn required coffee. So I’d often stop into a McDonald’s while on the drive, pick up a cup and maybe some food, and then get right back on the interstate, to save time. Since I knew it was “to go,” I’d usually start off my order by saying, “Now, this is to go…,” but I always found that after I finished ordering — “Yes, of course: supersize that!” — they’d always ask,

“Is that for here or to go?”

It was as if they hadn’t even heard me answer that question right from the start. Continue reading “Only What’s on the Menu”

I Smell Something Fishy

scentsYes, it’s time for college football; if you work at a US university with a football program and you’re not paying attention to the other cuess — like the pretty sparse attendance on Fridays if Saturday is an away game — then you’ll surely know this by the difficult-to-overlook influx of port-a-potties that arrive midweek, to handle the game day, shall we say, demand.

At least at my school they’re lined up like dutiful soldiers all around the heart of the old campus, where I happen to have my office. Continue reading “I Smell Something Fishy”