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View Diary: Race & Gender Studies: Expertise Counts (129 comments)

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  •  Let me see if I can (3+ / 0-)

    say something here without getting HR'd on all fronts, for a change

    I use myself as my example. I have spent most of 35 years as an academic, with degrees in political science, although mostly teaching political philosophy in philosophy departments. I have also studied and taught American government and constitutional law, along with course titles like, "Philosophy and Public Policy." Not unexpectedly, I have tackled the topic of racial issues many times over many years, reading much and doing what I believe is some hard thinking about these matters. In short, I claim some expertise in examination of these issues.

    But here's the kicker: I do not much like the claim that only those of the ____ race, ethnic group, or other 'identity' is capable of truly understanding the issues and problems that go along with membership in that class (fill in that blank as you will). I have concluded, after much thought, that these claims must fail on various grounds that I do not intend to attempt to revisit here.

    Unfortunately, even to broach that thought here on DK unleashes a massive storm of circle-the-wagons, man-the-ramparts, string-up-the-dissenter political correctitude. There are days I think that DK must attract some of the least tolerant folks on the face of the earth—and all of them preaching toleration and diversity (but only so long as you entirely agree with the groupthink). In context, then, it turns out that "expertise" hereabouts is to be interpreted as "agrees with the party line and everything we thought we knew already." It is dispiriting, to say the least.

    And now that I've had my say, I think maybe DK and I can probably do with a break from each other. Please return to any previously scheduled agreement and nodding.

    •  Try studying anthropology instead (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chitown Kev
      only those of the __ race, ethnic group, or other 'identity' is capable of truly understanding the issues and problems that go along with membership in that class

      I think you may be overstating the claim.  I would explain it more as it is unlikely that unless you've lived in a certain ethnic community, you're not likely to understand that community's problems and certainly not likely to understand the subjective experience of its members, which in turn, conditions their behavior.

      I'll never be able to understand why this seems impossible for people in certain disciplines to grasp, especially political science, while it is fundamental to the discipline of anthropology -- at least those anthropologists who practice immersive field work.  It's not that an outsider "can't" understand another group's experience; it's that they rarely to the immersion field work that would enable them to.  

      I studied African history and anthropology at the graduate level, but it took a year of living in Africa, trying to learn the language (and some of its built in structures of meaning), talking to people constantly and voraciously reading African novels before I had a clue.

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