raewyn connell on university, settler colonialism and the cultural cringe

08Jan13

The fact that the settler population is mostly white, English-speaking, and has European ancestors creates an illusion of identity. Politicians encourage this by constantly talking of Australia as a “Western country”, a nonsense term that a surprising number of social scientists still use.

Current trends in universities are worsening the problem. Neoliberal policy-makers drive Australian universities and academics to compete with each other. The key metrics for this competition involve recognition in the metropole, especially, publication and citation in highly-ranked metropolitan journals. Since metropolitan journals operate within metropolitan intellectual cultures (we can’t expect them to do otherwise!), the message for Australian scientists is clear: do it the US/EU way, if you want promotion and grants in Australia.

Social science in a settler-colonial society therefore tends to split between an abstractedtheoretical discourse, conducted as if in the metropole with little or no local reference, and an applied social science in which methodologies developed in the metropole are applied to empirical studies of local social problems.

 

From Southern Perspectives.



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