Showing posts with label status. Show all posts
Showing posts with label status. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Name politics

Whilst there are good arguments for re-examine naming in academic citations, making specific allowances for certain scholars over others reminds us that academia continues to be elitist, thinks Payal Arora.

It was a typical academic workshop. “Madhu Madhu” was the next presenter. This Indian female academic came on stage and started to explain the politics behind her name and how it went wrong. Her name was just “Madhu.” Not “Madhu Madhu.”
In India, you can tell a person’s caste by his/her last name. There is pervasive discrimination based on the caste to which you belong. Since you are born into a caste, there is absolute immobility. This is a barrier to social equality, also in academia.
For these reasons, she was politically motivated to drop her last name.
When she applied to do this workshop in the United Kingdom, she explained her name change multiple times to the organisers. However, columns needed to be filled and this diverged from academic protocol. Hence, the organisers gave her the name “Madhu Madhu.”
One might argue that whilst her politics are relevant and convincing in her local context, academic standardisation exists to avoid exceptionalism. It would be a privilege for Madhu to change bibliographic standards. It would emphasise her social capital against all those who do not have power to enforce their own name politics. A worthwhile case for academic democracy.
Meanwhile, an accomplished American academic Danah Boyd has succeeded in establishing her name in small letters.
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kitsch me if you can...





Easter weekend is here.

Out hops the stuffed bunnies in all shapes and sizes; they hang from windows, perch happily at mall cafes and frame chocolate isles of supermarkets. Its not a sin to be furry and cute. Its their duty. Their presence is considered appropriate to mark this ritual event. In fact, we expect kitsch to be at places of common ground only to reinforce our social distance from it. The masses allow for the elite to exist.

So it is no wonder that one feels unnerved when one sees these creatures in their furry glory infiltrate your exclusive moments at what you consider a classy Belgian restaurant. While a real French speaking hostess serves a four course meal and punctuates your dinner at strategic times to make sure your wine glass is full, you see Easter kitsch seep through EVERYWHERE!

As you sit by the window, a wonderful landscape view of the hills of the Ardennes is tainted by a nest of eggs on your table; a humble potted plant is violated by gaudy yellow feathers shooting up from its soil and in case the message hasn't come through potently enough, yellow chicks have been let loose on the table. Kitsch has taken over as you consume your quail with white cabbage. Nothing is sacred anymore. Elitism is fraying, losing its edge and if not careful, will get corrupted by the common man's taste! After all, when have you seen ritual parade itself rawly in its full regalia at a Tiffany store or the Four Seasons?

So what makes this kitsch in the first place? Why is kitsch easy to identify and just as difficult to define? Milan Kundera kindly illuminates us on this, "Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says:How nice to be moved, together with all mankind by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes Kitsch Kitsch."

Packaged sentimentality apparently is on the rise...there is no safety in low numbers anymore!