Saturday, April 10, 2021

“If there is a fashion effect, as for this new type of research, our role is not to censor them, but to supervise them”

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Tribune. According to some, “Islamo-leftism” – a term whose violence is matched only by the emptiness it represents – would happily thrive on the American campuses which would even be its homeland and birthplace. Yes, the gender studies, the animal studies and the postcolonial studies are present in the United States, in the same way as the study of the New Testament, that of Pascal and Simone Weil, without these last two subjects of study or of more “classic” still being neglected or in the process of disappearance .

I believe I can testify, from my place, that the relatively new presence of these objects of study in the offer of the courses offered to students has aroused an interest motivated by a healthy curiosity about them.

The observation is there: American universities – the very large ones in any case – have a range of courses that are often wider and more diversified than what is offered in France in the human and social sciences, in the sense that courses dealing specifically with these questions have been created, when French institutions prefer to consider the theme of gender, in a more ad hoc and transversal manner …

Binary reasoning

Does this mean that we only do gender studies or some postcolonial studies on American campuses at the expense of everything else? It seems to me that I can say the answer is no. Are these issues arousing lively interest and making it possible to renew scientific research on certain subjects by approaching them from a new angle? It seems to me that the answer is yes, and that the introduction of these new fields of study at the university is largely beneficial in the sense that aspects formerly eluded or neglected are now taken into consideration.

Asking questions should never be taken as a threat or danger. The idea that political power, on the other hand, gets involved in coming to “police” among academics and among researchers is untenable.

We must stop adopting this binary reasoning which consists in thinking that, when we are interested in questions of gender or “race” – in the sense that this word has in the United States -, we are not interested more, for example, to so-called traditional questions, in the sense that they have been worked on for a longer time at the university.

On American campuses, we are not called upon to choose (at least not immediately) between mathematics and literary theory, nor between animal studies – that is to say, the way in which animals were represented at a certain time and what this representation said about the relationship with the world of men and women at the time – and religious questions.

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