25 Jan 2015

Students at Berkeley Angry: No Trannies Made Raphael’s School of Athens!

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RaphaelSchoolOfAthensA
Plato and Aristotle, Detail from Raphael’s The School of Athens

Rodrigo Kazuo and Meg Perret found their classroom environment at Berkeley hostile, even when their professor was lecturing on Karl Marx (!), because the Western canon is exclusively composed of works by dead, white, European males, not a single person of color or transgendered individual makes the cut.

We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

We have major concerns about social theory courses in which white men are the only authors assigned. These courses pretend that a minuscule fraction of humanity — economically privileged white males from five imperial countries (England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States) — are the only people to produce valid knowledge about the world. This is absurd. The white male syllabus excludes all knowledge produced outside this standardized canon, silencing the perspectives of the other 99 percent of humanity.

The white male canon is not sufficient for theorizing the lives of marginalized people. None of the thinkers we studied in this course had a robust analysis of gender or racial oppression. They did not even engage with the enduring legacies of European colonial expansion, the enslavement of black people and the genocide of indigenous people in the Americas. Mentions of race and gender in the white male canon are at best incomplete and at worst racist and sexist. We were required to read Hegel on the “Oriental realm” and Marx on the “Asiatic mode of production,” but not a single author from Asia. We were required to read Weber on the patriarchy, but not a single feminist author. The standardized canon is obsolete: Any introduction to social theory that aims to be relevant to today’s problems must, at the very least, address gender and racial oppression.

The exclusions on the syllabus were mirrored in the classroom. Although the professor said he wanted to make the theory relevant to present issues, the class was out of touch with the majority of students’ lives. The lectures often incorporated current events, yet none of the examples engaged critically with gender or race. The professor even failed to mention the Ferguson events, even though he lectured about prisons, normalizing discourse and the carceral archipelago in Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish” the day after the grand jury decision on the murder of Michael Brown.

Furthermore, the classroom environment felt so hostile to women, people of color, queer folks and other marginalized subjects that it was difficult for us to focus on the course material. Sometimes, we were so uncomfortable that we had to leave the classroom in the middle of lecture. For example, when lecturing on Marx’s idea of the “natural division of labor between men and women,” the professor attributed some intellectual merit to this idea because men and women are biologically distinct from each other, because women give birth while men do not. One student asked, “What about trans* people?” to which the professor retorted, “There will always be exceptions.” Then, laughing, the professor teased, “We may all be transgender in the future.” Although one might be tempted to dismiss these remarks as a harmless attempt at humor, mocking trans* people and calling them “exceptions” is unacceptable.

Read the whole thing.

Myself, I’d argue that Plato may very possibly have swung both ways, and that Michel Foucault was a commie pervert who doesn’t belong in any serious version of the Western canon, but who should qualify perfectly as an excellent (and eminently repulsive) representative of all of the “marginalized” groups there are.

I’d suggest, additionally, that if you think “Plato and Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault” came from “England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States,” you probably need to acquire greater personal familiarity with the lives and ideas (and countries of origin) of the philosophers conventionally included in the Western canon, before you will be qualified to dispute over exactly who does, and who does not, deserve to be included.

Hat tip to Campus Reform.

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8 Feedbacks on "Students at Berkeley Angry: No Trannies Made Raphael’s School of Athens!"

Lee

Probably one of my favorite examples of the idiocy of the “Let’s Hate Dead White Men” club was when progressive students at University of Washington demonstrated against something to honor alumnus, Pappy Boyington, because there was enough statues of “rich, white men” there. Boyington was of Sioux descent, and definitely not rich.



Vic

If the authors are so intimately familiar with the whole corpus of philosophy, what are they doing in a philosophy classroom? Are they using it as a “cupcake” course to increase their grades, or are they just parroting what they were told by some other wing nut?



Maggie's Farm

Monday morning links

Don’t be surprised if Maggie’s servers end up down tonight or tomorrow. If so, it will be because of the wind, not the snow. Website of note: Chateau Heartiste New England Patriots Cialis Commercial Parody (For Deflated-Balls) Insane Archery Skills



The Old Salt

Your response is nice, but entirely too polite. The children need to be told, in one syllable words, to sit down and shut up.



GoneWithTheWind

“the enslavement of black people and the genocide of indigenous people in the Americas.”

They are guilty of what they charge others of doing. They seem ignorant, maybe willfully of the huge numbers of non-black slaves. At the beginning of the civil war about 600,000 black slaves lived in the U.S. The estimate of the numbers of white slaves captured and taken to Africa exceed 2 million. Interestingly most slavers were muslims.
Regarding the so-called genocide of indigenous people in the Americas; most of the fighting between the Indians and the immigrants was a one on one or a few from each group attacking a few from the opposing group. There never was any genocide. The numbers killed by both sides was pretty much equal. The Indians lost mostly because there was a never ending supply of immigrants.



George

I agree with all your points, however the total slave population in 1860 was 3.95 million:

http://www.civil-war.net/pages/1860_census.html

The majority of the people in MS and SC were slaves.



Stepin’ Fetchit Meet Myra Breckinridge | Guffaw in AZ

[…] from Never Yet Melted (in part): […]



AnneRose Blayk

[excerpted from the cited article]

One student asked, “What about trans* people?” to which the professor retorted, “There will always be exceptions.” Then, laughing, the professor teased, “We may all be transgender in the future.”
_____

Huh. Some people just can’t “read” professorial invocations of the inexorable trends of history discerned through long hours of scrupulous attention by the flickering light of LEDs to [REDACTED] at the home office as they undergo transformations of social awareness in confrontation with the Revolutionary Transguard in the classroom!

TRANSLATION: “Hey babe, you’re HOT!”

Sincerely,
AnneRose Blayk

PS: “The white male canon is not sufficient for theorizing the lives of marginalized people.”

“The Death of Socrates – Julian Gaines – Multiculturalism 101”

OK, so Socrates was this underemployed stonemason who bitched out the wrong peeps, and according to Aristophanes the dude had fleas to boot?

So they waxed his ass, but good!

“The End”

TALK ABOUT MARGINALIZED

:)



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