Justice Everywhere

a blog about justice in public affairs

Month: December 2016

Debate, Dissent, and Safer Spaces

Thomas Swann is a Research Associate at Loughborough University working on an ESRC-funded project examining rule-making and constitutionalising in anarchist politics. He has a PhD in management and a background in social and political philosophy. His research explores the connections between anarchism and organisational cybernetics, aiming to develop ‘anarchist cybernetics’ as a framework for understanding radical left social movement organisation. His is the final post in the series:

Ethics in Academic Events

As theorists of justice and professional ethicists we are used to scrutinizing the practices of others. Is it not about time that we turned our analytical skills and discerning moral sensitivities on ourselves? Inspired by discussions at the closing of the workshop ‘Global Justice and Global Health Ethics Exploring the Influence of Iris Marion Young’, this series of posts seeks to examine our own actions and practices and explore the moral dilemmas of the academy.

 

Do safer spaces stiffle or enable debate?

In September of this year, the Anarchist Studies Network (ASN) conference agreed upon a draft safer spaces policy for future events. Among other things, the safer spaces policy, called for participants to avoiding making assumptions about people’s gender, be aware of being part of a privileged group, make sure discussions of traumatic subjects are entered into with care and reject racist or sexist language.

Documents like this that are designed to govern behaviour in academic spaces have become controversial over the last year or so. Claims are often made that safer spaces policies (‘safer’ rather than ‘safe’ because insecurity can never be eliminated entirely) are akin to censorship and that they wrap people in protective cotton wool.

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Support Early Career Researchers, Increase Diversity

Maeve McKeown is a Junior Research Fellow in Political Theory at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. She is a former co-editor at New Left Project and convener of the St Hilda’s Feminist Salon. Hers is the fourth post in a series on:

Ethics in Academic Events

As theorists of justice and professional ethicists we are used to scrutinizing the practices of others. Is it not about time that we turned our analytical skills and discerning moral sensitivities on ourselves? Inspired by discussions at the closing of the workshop ‘Global Justice and Global Health Ethics Exploring the Influence of Iris Marion Young’, this series of posts seeks to examine our own actions and practices and explore the moral dilemmas of the academy.

 

As political theorists we often critique inequality in society, but we rarely critique inequality in our own profession. We know that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few tenured professors, with junior faculty struggling in short-term, poorly-paid, precarious contracts, often moving cities or countries on a yearly basis (with all the hidden costs that incurs). We know that there are few women and people of colour in permanent, senior positions. So what are we doing about this? And how does it apply to conference organising?

One of the ways academics disseminate their research and are spotted for jobs is through presenting at conferences. But conference fees and travel expenses are often too expensive for junior faculty, with their just-about-living wages (or sometimes not living wages). Short-term contracts usually do not come with research expenses, or at least not sufficient expenses to participate in overseas or even local conferences.

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‘We Middle-Class Liberals’

This post is the third in a series on:

Ethics in Academic Events

As theorists of justice and professional ethicists we are used to scrutinizing the practices of others. Is it not about time that we turned our analytical skills and discerning moral sensitivities on ourselves? Inspired by discussions at the closing of the workshop ‘Global Justice and Global Health Ethics Exploring the Influence of Iris Marion Young’, this series of posts seeks to examine our own actions and practices and explore the moral dilemmas of the academy.

 

Exclusivity in Academia

Verina Wild’s post highlighted that much of the polemical critique of liberal elites is unfair and dangerous. However, academia has played a role in sustaining the cultural divide that is now being effectively exploited by the right to turn people against each other. In this post I explore this issue and discuss how academic philosophers should respond to it.

‘We Middle-class Liberals’

Countless times I have heard ‘we liberals’ or read ‘as middle class people’ in academic discussions concerning questions of justice and ethics. At first it made me think I didn’t belong, later it just made me uncomfortable to be part of an in-group. The idea of a liberal middle-class ‘we’ is troubling and yet class awareness is vital to understanding injustice.  The tension for radical and progressive political theorists between the need to recognize in-group privilege and the need to challenge and oppose rather than reproduce it is a complex one.

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