June 29, 2003

Weekly IA Award

This week's Invisible Adjunct Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence (No Cash, Just Glory) goes to Timothy Burke for his incisive account of the tragicomedy of academic careerism (comments to "Do We Really Need Another 'Other'?"):

This is about how careerist tropes seize hold of and ultimately parody real causes and communities--sometimes, though not invariably, in alliance with some similar seizures and instrumental uses among identity politics activists. It would be funny if it weren't so damned annoying: the 'discovery' of a marginality is proclaimed like Columbus claiming the New World for Spain, rescued from malign and deliberate neglect. An earnest project of recovery is outlined, and a rhetoric of urgent redress accompanies it--which carries with it an implicit need to commission the discoverer as the agent of redress, speaking on behalf of the hidden, lost, concealed, suppressed history.

Then comes the people who want to reveal 'hidden complexities' in the heroically recovered marginality, while more or less maintaining the recovery narrative intact. Then comes the people who question whether the identity in question even really exists, and who pronounce it part of a system of representational binaries which enmesh everyone who tries to speak of the categories in question.

Meanwhile, the gold rush search for the next never-mentioned marginality in need of recuperation has long since moved on.

Well done, Mr Burke, and thank you for being always already insightful. Of course, even to have commented is to have implicated yourself in the binary logic of a representational dilemma for which there can be no redress and from which there can be no escape. Let this prize serve as consolation.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at June 29, 2003 05:26 PM

I forgot to say congrats when this was first posted.

Congrats, Professor Burke!

Posted by: Rana at July 7, 2003 11:54 PM