In this episode, John welcomes Jessica Blatt, Associate Professor of Political Science at Marymount Manhattan College, for a conversation about her 2018 book Race and the Making of American Political Science. What was political science’s role in shaping a de-radicalizing ‘race relations’ paradigm? How did the early discipline of political science turned to categories of ‘race’ in a bid for foundation funding and claims to scientific knowledge? What are the pedagogical implications for political scientists today of the book and of this genealogy of racism in the discipline? Tune in to explore these and other questions about a sometimes (read: frequently) ahistorical and not particularly self-reflective discipline).
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After a dissertating hiatus, James returns with a new Epistemic Unruliness interview featuring Dr. J.T. Roane, Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Univ. of Cincinnati. The pair discuss J.T.’s article, “Plotting the Black Commons,” recently published in Souls, A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, that reads an archive of Black ecology and social life out of Black folks’ engagements with the Chesapeake Bay estuary in the Tidewater region of Virginia and Maryland. Through multiple reads of “the plot” and “plotting,” J.T. holds up practices of subsistence farming as well as small-scale fishing, oystering, and crabbing traditions as exemplifying a Black epistemology of reciprocity for the commons that stands in distinction to the theologies of dominion and mastery that undergird the logics of white supremacist settler colonialism, and that gave rise to our current climate crises — or as J.T. explains it, “the so-called Anthropocene or the racial capitalocene.” James and J.T. also discuss pedagogical praxis, and James answers a listener email on-air about Afro-pessimist takes on the Anthropocene.
Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their new album FutureCommons; always already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.
How can we explain the “occlusion of embodied power” and “lack of attention to race, gender, and sexuality” in the discipline of political science, a field “that claims power as a central analytical concept” (17)? In her new book, Embodied Power: Demystifying Disembodied Politics (Routledge, 2016), Mary Hawkesworth (Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University) brings intersectionality, feminist theory, and post- and de-colonial theory to bear on the mainstream study of politics. She argues for the need to move away from customary concepts of “power” and “the political” that mask state practices that construct various forms of hierarchy. These concepts and the methodologies and epistemologies they give rise to, she argues, lead the discipline unable to grapple with issues such as the carceral state or the violence of nation-building. At the same they cover over the ways that “racialization and gendering have been constitutive of knowledge production within the discipline” (17). In the interview, Hawkesworth discusses these conceptual practices of power as well as how intersectional attention to embodied power can reclaim the study of politics.
Is the scientific value of objectivity in conflict with the social justice commitment to diversity? In her latest book, Objectivity and Diversity: A New Logic of Scientific Inquiry (University of Chicago Press, 2015),Sandra Harding (Education and Gender Studies, UCLA) argues not only that objectivity and diversity need not be in conflict, but that good research ought to be committed to both values at the same time. The book draws on a rich array of scholarship, spanning from 20th century philosophy of science to contemporary studies in indigenous and postcolonial philosophy and activism. It is an intricate study of the ways in which objectivity, positivism, and secularism are all deeply intertwined with their social contexts and historical moments. The book ultimately advocates a science that is both responsive to a methodological requirement for strong objectivity, and originates in local communities.
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Join John, Emily, and the lamp specter of B for this week’s discussion of some of the work of Dutch anthropologist and philosopher of medicine, Annemarie Mol. In this episode, we read several essays of Mol’s spanning three decades, and grappling with such questions as: who know what a woman is and how do the sciences both create and obscure her? What does Actor Network Theory (ANT) make of such terms as “coordination” and “order,” and can ANT make good on the promise of “theory” more generally? How are the “real” and “political” implicated in and through one another, and what is the ontological turn in Science and Technology Studies?
Our conversation asks about the relationship between epistemology and ontology, about the consequences of these views for democratic theory and democracy more broadly, and we even try our hand at engaging in a little Rawlsian thought experiment! We’ll leave it up to you to decide how well it plays out. The episode closes with a My Tumblr Friend from Canada question regarding some recents comments made by Bill Nye the Science Guy about the relevance of philosophy to science and in general.
We would also like to announce the launch of our new Patreon account. The first few minutes of the episode are replete with details regarding donating to the podcast, and rewards for our patrons. Please give it a listen, check out the site here, and consider sponsoring us if you are a fan! We are greatly appreciative and (we hope) appropriately humbled and reflexive by/about our neoliberal subjectivity. Thank you for your support!
Thanks to listener dmf of Synthetic Zero for suggesting we read these texts. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 of the episode here. RSS feed here. Thanks to Leah Dion and to B for the music.