Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Feminist gibberish in academic conference abstract

While there were quite a few abstracts for the German diaspora conference I would have rejected that got accepted, one stands out as particularly bad. The title of the paper is "The Domestication of Radical Ideas and Colonial Spaces: The Case of Elisabeth Foerster-Nietzsche - Session: Gender Perspectives." Immediately it is apparent that the paper does not deal with the topic of the conference and is written in language that is alien to everybody outside of the ivory tower. A diaspora is not a single immigrant. Diasporas require a transmission of identification with their imagined homeland to generations born abroad. They are also collective units. I was not an American diaspora during the years I lived in London. In fact the abstract does not even refer to the settlers of Nueva Germania in Paraguay in 1886 as a diaspora. Rather it identifies them as colonists. There are of course German diasporas in Paraguay including a Mennonite Russian-German one created by several waves of migration motivated by Tsarist and Soviet persecution. But, the 19th century German equivalent of Hayden Lake Idaho in the jungles of Paraguay falls far short of meeting the criteria of diaspora. It is just a compound. The concept of diaspora is not a difficult one to grasp.

Next there is the continued reference to "fascist Germany." I know this term which has Stalinist origins is used to avoid mentioning the Socialist part of National Socialist in Nazi. But, the fact is while National Socialism is not considered a socialist ideology like Social Democracy, Bolshevism, Labour Zionism, Trotskyism or Maoism it is not the same as fascism. Only one country officially had fascism and that was Italy. The differences between Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany are immense. This is especially true regarding the one aspect of "fascist Germany" that obsesses the abstract's author, anti-semitism. Anybody who thinks that Mussolini's policies towards Jews was the same as Hitler's is seriously misinformed. The term Nazi Germany and Nazism are perfectly acceptable for describing Hitler's regime and ideology as is the longer version of National Socialist. Fascist, however, is not an accurate term to describe Germany rather than Italy and carries with it some serious Stalinist baggage.

Finally there is the convoluted writing. I am still not sure what the abstract is about exactly. Only that it manages to use all the proper politically correct code words. I reproduce some of the more difficult to read sentences below.

"At issue in my exploration of colonialist activities is not to demonstrate female complicity with the colonial enterprise-as has been done by various explorations of colonialism-,but rather to turn Forster-Nietzsche into a case study for the female appropriation of it."

"While Forster-Nietzsche's duplicitous activities as the wife of the anti-Semite Forster reflect her political opportunism and the partial internalization of bourgeois moral codes pertaining to women, they also indicate her ambiguous stance toward and partial rebellion against the intellectual and social dependency implied by her role of female supporter of the enterprises of men."

"In domesticating her anti-Semitic husband's radical conservative and racist ideas in Paraguay, Forster-Nietzsche sets in motion a process of dispossession as she attempts to counteract her own subordination under the enterprises of men."

Can anybody translate any of the three sentences above into English?

Right now there is a lengthy ongoing discussion at Grant Jone's blog,
Dougout dealing with the left's abuse of language in this matter. I just found out today that you don't need to have any publications to get a univeristy teaching position in the US if you are a radical feminist. Given the quality of much of their output as demonstrated by the abstract described above prehaps it is best if they do not publish anything.


Chris O'Byrne said...

The fact that she is not dealing with a diaspora should have been enough for her rejection. The convoluted language makes me even more upset. In my youth, I was told that learning to read such gibberish was an intellectual experience and if it took me ten times longer to read then it must be uplifting. I fell for that tripe (no offense to cows) and wasted much of my time attempting to decipher the writing. Today, I know better. To quote a more easily understood figure of royalty... "Off with her head!"

J. Otto Pohl said...

No Chris violence is not the way. Instead we should smoke the peace pipe in July. That is after I get a new pipe. But, using ten times as many words as necessary does test the patience even of saints, sufis and Mennonites.

Chris O'Byrne said...

Yes, peace is the way and the path is through the hookah. I welcome the hookah. I will journey to the hookah. Behold, the hookah.