Dismissals of Various Sorts

1.  Jayne’s grandpa died.

2.  La Chola has been covering Andrea Smith’s failed tenure bid.  Yes, you can be nominated for a Nobel prize and that’s not good enough for Michigan.

3.  But now the Chronicle is writing about it and, god damn, will someone explain to me where all the fuckers on that site come from? It’s like a breeding ground for high and mighty idiots.  I swear to god, someone just said, “It is interesting that the websites ThinkGirl.net and La Chola have no clue about whether Dr. Smith deserves tenure or not. Her support is strictly based on her background.” and yet, like you now know because you looked at La Chola’s website in the last link, La Chola has a big clue about whether Dr. Smith deserves tenure.

I don’t know what you call this, other than an asshole move, but I see this frequently in academia from members of certain groups, where they are so used to having their positions taken as gospel that they can tell you to look at something then make a statement that is directly contradicted by what you just looked at and they have this kind of smug expectation that you will defer to their lie (something they have got to know is a lie because they pointed you to the information that disproves what they’re saying) rather than stand up for the truth.

And what pisses me off about this in myself is that I often don’t make an issue out of it.  I just keep my head down and nod like I agree, while trying to take solace in the fact that at least I know it’s a lie.

4.  Oh, Viking Cat, consider me pillaged!

6 thoughts on “Dismissals of Various Sorts

  1. Thanks for the heads up on the ongoing conversations at La Chola. I tried to explain why it was that a research u could look at Smith’s formidable publication record and come away under-impressed. It’s a system that works to (and I would argue was designed to) discourage applied research or political engagement, marginalizes the type of scholarship she excels at, places a low value on mentoring and teaching (areas where she’s exceptional), and so forth. This is a classic case of “bad fit” — UM hired someone brilliant from the UCSC History of Consciousness Program and they’re shocked and dismayed to find that she turned out to be just who she said she was.

    Unfortunately, it probably will sound to the readers of La Chola like I am defending the idiot way these decisions get made, though I am not. I’m trying to illustrate the way that the tenure system places women of color (and particularly activist-scholars) at a disadvantage; that’s why they call it “institutional racism,” right? If I were Smith, I would find little advantage in staying in Ann Arbor but I would want to make a point of demonstrating the flaws and subjectivities of the process that leaves a highly qualified scholar (who will be hired by another Research I on the strength of her academic work) out on her ass at UM.

  2. well, honestly, getting nominated for a Nobel really isn’t a big deal. loads of people have the influence and contacts it takes to do that. the hard part is winning one.

    which is also why the prize committee never mentions who’s been nominated in any given year. in fact, people going around bragging conspicuously about having been nominated can be considered doubly suspect — why do they care, and how do they even know anyway?

    i don’t know if Andrea Smith does that, of course. but some folks do, and they’re doofuses for it.

  3. Julie, my understanding is that that’s the Chronicle’s house style. Everyone gets referred to as Ms. or Mr. in order to circumvent the status games that so many academics love to play.

    But seeing your comment next to Nomen’s makes me think that this kind of thing is exactly the kind of thing that can trip up non-traditional scholars. From the outside, it looks like institutions put high value in, say, whether a person has PhD or if a person wins a Nobel Prize. So, folks strive for those things.

    And then we turn around and say, Oh, but we don’t use “Dr.” in front of anybody’s name. Getting nominated for a Nobel really isn’t a big deal. Sure, you’ve got a book, but it’s not the right kind of book. And so on. It really is like we switch rules in midstream.

    And so, a lot of “success” as a scholar comes not from doing what it seems institutions want, but learning how to successfully navigate those institutions.

    I see a lot of perfectly good scholars sacrificed to that. And the thing is that it’s pretty easy to recognize when it’s happening, but it’s so hard to talk about and name and fight. The lengths people go to institutionalizing their assholishness so that they don’t have to face it is pretty amazing.

  4. In my field, most of us don’t use Dr. even after we earn the PhD. We use Professor, ostensibly because it’s less pretentious and it separates us from MDs and people in schools of ed. In practice, though, the statement of rank that goes with Professor (are you an assistant, an associate, have you made full prof, are you employed or not by a college) communicates one’s relative standing in the field and what you’ve done after your doctorate more precisely.

    Me, I go by Bridgett. It’s a good name and I’m used to answering to it.

  5. I”m a UofM alum and am consistently appalled by the people they deny tenure. Profs who are outstanding in their fields, who have received nothing but glowing recommendations from students/peers/etc.

    I knew going there years (and years) ago that it wasn’t the bastion of liberalism, but I’m still surprised at how old white guy they are.

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