For those who enjoy the absurdities of modern scholarship, here (via Jerry Coyne) is a video from King Crocoduck compiled from entries at the Twitter site Real Peer Review, with an intro by Noam Chomsky. It's a look at some of the "theory"-driven post-modern nonsense that still permeates sections of academia:
I'm no fan of Chomsky, but he's clearly on the mark here with his notion of the jargon-envy which drives so many in the humanities and social sciences to try and emulate their science colleagues with their very own terminological sophistry.
Even if there's no time to look in any detail, the video does give some kind of indication of what's getting produced out there. A couple caught my eye:
Abstract: According to the logic of the gendered modernity/tradition binary, women in traditional societies are oppressed and women in modern societies liberated. While the binary valorizes modern women, it potentially erases gendered oppression in the West and undermines feminist movements on behalf of Western women. Using U.S. newspaper text, I ask whether female genital cutting (FGC) is used to define women in modern societies as liberated. I find that speakers use FGC to both uphold and challenge the gendered modernity/ tradition binary. Speakers use FGC to denigrate non-Western cultures and trivialize the oppressions that U.S. women typically encounter, but also to make feminist arguments on behalf of women everywhere. I argue that in addition to examining how culturally imperialist logics are reproduced, theorists interested in feminist postcolonialism should turn to the distribution of such logics, emphasizing the who, where, when, and how of reinscription of and resistance to such narratives.
The problem seems to be, in essence, that criticising FGM in "traditional societies" supposedly suggests that Western women, free from this particular problem, are somehow better off. This trivialises the suffering of Western women, and is therefore a Bad Thing. The actual trivialisation thus achieved of the undeniable suffering of millions of non-Western women is in fact breathtakingly arrogant, and reeks of privilege if not racism, but because it claims to be the opposite, and is presented in the familiar modish jargon of academic feminist postcolonialism, it passes as progressive.
And, on the same topic:
Abstract (summary): This thesis analyzes examples of current female circumcision discourse within U.S. feminist contexts and western-based anti-circumcision projects operating in Kenya. This analysis reveals that, despite recent critiques from postcolonial scholars and activists, the knowledge produced around female circumcision perpetuates discursive and material violence against Kenyan Maasai communities. I explore how this violence has persisted in neo/colonial eras as part of the white western feminist ‘care of self’ technique of displacing female abjection through the pleasure of whiteness. I trace how these formations of race and gender have become attached to understandings of genitalia through colonial-era race science, Freudian psychoanalysis and some feminist texts from 1949-1970. I suggest that these western feminist constructions of sexual liberation rely on depicting racialized women as primitive and degenerate. Finally, I argue that these racial and gendered constructions now inform concepts of ‘developed’ versus ‘underdeveloped’ bodies and nations in contemporary international development work.
Rather than try to make any sense of this, I'll just offer the summary at New Peer Review - "Postcolonial scholars claim criticizing FGM consitutes violence against african women". I'll take their word for it.
Ophelia B with more nonsense at B&W - Have a carnal hermeneutic.
And more here, ten days back, on one of the founding fathers of "theory", and his unfortunate predilection for Nazism.