I’m too tired to read your work — on refusing HAU Journal

I’m too tired to read your work — on refusing HAU Journal

This weekend, PhD student Taylor Genovese drew attention to the fact that the former Editor in Chief of HAU journal was granted an opportunity to write a final editorial in the journal (which I refuse to link to) — despite widespread accounts from former staff of highly problematic behaviours that were allowed to carry on at the journal. I have only read one screen cap of a portion of the editorial on twitter, and here’s why: life is too short to waste it on a journal and its leadership that fail to see that anthropology is already heading in a different direction than the one elite anthros are desperately clinging to. We don’t need that baroque and jealous brand of Ivy/Oxbridge/R1/North Atlantic anthropology in this day and age. We certainly don’t need those aspects of the discipline that would fail again and again to see why it’s inappropriate to approach reports of abuse and harassment the way that they have approached it. What we need is a radical commitment to co-thinking, co-constitution, collaboration, and building otherwise. We need scholars committed to imagining life beyond the boundaries of disciplines as organizing principles. And that’s all this brand of elite anthro really offers to us: a set of organizing principles centred on elite schools that jealously guard the boundaries of a discipline and teach ‘rigour’ as a set of sneers and snide remarks — and prattle on about theory while marginalized folks do the heavy lifting of transforming the world in their own communities. There’s very little that this form of scholarship offers to us as we imagine a world in which white supremacist colonial capitalist patriarchal knowledge structures are truly sidelined.

So I am going to counsel folks to do something I would NEVER encourage otherwise: don’t read the editorial. Don’t waste your life force on echoes of white anthropology and its adherents desperately trying to claw its way back to relevance. This time around I don’t have 4,000 words to write on anthropology. I care more about the watersheds in my home territory, the fish we’re trying to restore in rivers in extraction zones back home. I don’t care what anthropology does or does not do at this point. It is irrelevant to the struggles my own family or communities are dealing with. Instead, I counsel you to read the brilliance of junior, precarious, courageous scholars sharing their work in other spaces. In journals, yes, but also on Twitter, on blogs, podcasts, in conference spaces, in alternative venues being manifested beyond the institutional borders policed by the establishment. Maybe the one thing the Journal with the Appropriated Name has to teach us is: the cutting edge was never going to be in a yearning look back at pale, male, stale anthros of yore. It was always going to be an emergent, contingent, collaborative process rooted in real commitment to change. And that change is happening elsewhere. otherwise. beyond. 

and just an FYI: I will not be responding to comments on this piece. As an Indigenous woman, that’s simply labour I refuse to do for this discipline. kinanaskomitin. 

6 Replies to “I’m too tired to read your work — on refusing HAU Journal”

  1. “I have only read one screen cap of a portion of the editorial on twitter”
    So you are fulminating against something you have not even read. Your ‘scholarship’ is based on your twitter feed. I wouldn’t let my first year students do that.

    1. Why do you put scholarship in quotation marks? Are you familiar with her scholarship? You’re making assumptions about her academic credibility based on a wrong reading of her text: in no way is she saying that her academic knowledge is based on her twitter feed. READ AGAIN. Her statement is about looking for other spaces of anthropological knowledge, of which Twitter is just one of many:

      “In journals, yes, but also on Twitter, on blogs, podcasts, in conference spaces, in alternative venues being manifested beyond the institutional borders policed by the establishment. ”

      I don’t know how what’s there to misunderstand, so it seems to me you’re just using your own false interpretation to belittle her and her article, while clearly missing the point she very powerfully makes. I feel sorry for your first year students.

    2. Susann, you must be new around here, right? I mean, at this point what Zoe is saying is almost intuitive for everyone who’s been engaged in #hautalk. Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

  2. Thanks Zoe! As a privileged, white, middle-aged, tenured male professor I agree whole-heartedly with you on this. We do need “a radical commitment to co-thinking, co-constitution, collaboration, and building otherwise.” This is the right way forward for our discipline! Keep up your good work!

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