Terry L. Newman, Medium.

It is now accepted as fact in many academic fields that you cannot teach issues about specific groups if you are not a member of those groups. In my first article for Quillette, I wrote about a professor in my Master program who proclaimed to our seminar that white sociology professors were incapable of teaching courses on race. Of course this is not true. You do not have to be non-white to teach the subject of race respectfully and knowledgably. The same understanding has permeated qualitative research methods in the social sciences, the idea that only a member of an insider group can understand and research that group…

Campuses constantly hold talks about white supremacy and white privilege, as if lurking behind every corner. Speakers are brought in on pedagogical days to sensitize staff in already overwhelmingly progressive faculties in the humanities. Guilt has become something associated not with one’s actions, but one’s demographic. Is it any wonder why someone might choose to abandon the burden of their whiteness, and embrace, instead, the pristine, blameless identity of the marginalized?[W]e should recoil at the thought of our individual worlds becoming so small and so narrow that the only research we can participate in is research about ourselves. This is the insider doctrine…

[U]ntil we overcome the divisive insider doctrine which plagues us both inside and outside the academy, the idea that only members of groups can understand one another, [we will have more Jessica Krugs.]

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6 Responses to “‘Jessica Krug was taking advantage of the rules set up by an identitarian economy that exists both inside, and now increasingly outside, the university: an economy that bestows status and access to financial benefits and prestige … based solely on the color of your skin.’”

  1. Michael Tinkler Says:

    This aspect of modern life makes me happy to be a medievalist.

  2. theprofessor Says:

    I don’t know, Michael. Isn’t there some big medieval conference whose organizers were accused of white supremacy or something for not having enough of the proper kind of papers?

  3. JND Says:

    These same folk have come to the academic study of Management.

    The Academy of Management’s Code of Ethics contains this winner in its statement of General Principles:

    “AOM members are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status, and they consider these factors when working with all people.”

    I submit that it isn’t humanly possible to do all of these things, not seriously.

  4. Z Says:

    In foreign languages this is an old problem: native speakers are better teachers than non-native. It isn’t true: being native doesn’t mean you speak well, or know more, or know what it is to learn a foreign language, or have good methods; I’m a native speaker of English and have some academic training in it but that doesn’t mean I know as much about it as a person of any national background who has a Ph.D. and a research record in it.

    One can always also laugh about people who set up actual careers for themselves as a professional Brazilian, Cajun, etc.: “I am one, therefore I know things about it nobody else could, and I my experience is global,” etc.

    These things having been said, there *should* be faculty of color, including in disciplines that teach about these issues. That’s what is so problematic about her self-representation and hire.

    However, I am most interested in the future of her hires. I once had an article rejected because I was white; a peer reviewer said I was white and she was and neither of us had the right to critique the work of a non-white person. This was a false idea and it also showed that double blind peer review was not double blind, in this respected, first-tier journal.

    So what about Krug’s work and Duke UP, and the reviews of her book? Is her work non-good? Was it only tolerated because people thought she wasn’t white? Or what is the deal with this . . . if the work is a fabrication, shouldn’t the reviewers have caught this, and if the book is false, shouldn’t the press withdraw it? Or what? I’m not sure, I am just curious. It’s a fascinating problem, if the author is a fake, is the work? And: how hard are the reviewers working?

  5. Z Says:

    P.S. Apologies for typos above.

    1/ *and I my experience is global

    2/ *the future of her work: some have said they’ll never cite her again, and there are those who won’t cite Paul de Man, etc., but what is the status of this work if it was considered scientific / objective / good via blind review?

  6. UD Says:

    Z: Important point on the native speakers thing: Indeed nothing at all guarantees a native speaker will teach the language better than a non-native.

    I’ve now read a chunk of Krug’s book. As I wrote in an earlier comment thread, it seems to me a perfectly solid work of history, concentrating on a small part of the world that managed to resist colonization, appropriation… I doubt the book proper is “false,” although its introductory pages are full of self-aggrandizing lies. I suspect her research is legit, and her conclusions her own.

    It’s really ridiculous not to quote Paul de Man – his work was challenging, original, and important. If we decided to ignore every scummy person with a good mind we’d have a lot of time on our hands. I understand the impulse to want to ignore him, and Krug, but intellectual maturity means taking worthwhile – or possibly worthwhile – ideas seriously, however icky their author.

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