This started with a Twitter/Facebook post from Jordan Peterson:
Academic absurdity is something I’m increasingly interested in, so I figured I’d click the link. That took me to this page on Powerline Blog:
But I’m not interested in some Blogger’s take on the story. I want to get to the story itself, so I clicked the link:
First thing I noticed is that we’ve now got “Minnesota” and “Duke University Press” involved in the mix. Not sure where we are going with all this, but there are some big names getting dropped here.
Getting the full PDF costs money, and I’m not into spending money on this stuff, so all I’ve got is the abstract. Words highlighted in bold, red italics are the ones that my Google Chrome browser suggests are misspellings, which I take as a pretty good proxy for bullshit academic terms designed to create obfuscation:
“In this semimanifesto, I approach how understandings of quantum physics and cyborgian bodies can (or always already do) ally with feminist anti-oppression practices long in use. The idea of the body (whether biological, social, or of work) is not stagnant, and new materialist feminisms help to recognize how multiple phenomena work together to behave in what can become legible at any given moment as a body. By utilizing the materiality of conceptions about connectivity often thought to be merely theoretical, by taking a critical look at the noncentralized and multiple movements of quantum physics, and by dehierarchizing the necessity of linear bodies through time, it becomes possible to reconfigure structures of value, longevity, and subjectivity in ways explicitly aligned with anti-oppression practices and identity politics. Combining intersectionality and quantum physics can provide for differing perspectives on organizing practices long used by marginalized people, for enabling apparatuses that allow for new possibilities of safer spaces, and for practices of accountability.”
Typical academic word salad designed to conceal the fact that whoever wrote it is an idiot. Smart people know how to communicate in simple, effective ways. People who want you to think they are smart communicate like we see here. No thanks.
All that lead me to wonder who exactly is Whitney Stark. Turns out, it’s a bit of a mystery.
The Powerline Blog guys mistakenly called her a “professor of womens’s [sic] and gender studies at the University of Arizona”. That’s not right.
You can search the University of Arizona’s Gender and Women’s Studies Department faculty here. No Whitney Stark there.
So I did a Google search for “Whitney Stark Arizona”. Other than generic Facebook results, it’s amusing to see that the first few were stories about this “intersectional quantum physics” stuff.
But scroll down a little more on the Google results, and it looks like you hit gold:
“Whitney Stark – Institute for LGBT Studies – University of Arizona”. Gotta be it, right?
Not so fast.
Click on the link and you get this:
Also note that we have introduced another bullshit word: somatechnics. (It’s part of the URL...https://lgbt.arizona.edu/somatechnics-researcher/whitney-stark).
So Whitney Stark is a “Somatechnics Researcher”? What the fuck is that?
Decided to put “whitney stark” into the search box of the Arizona Institute for LGBT Studies web page, and got this:
Not much there, and note that is only includes a Gmail address and listed as “Anonymous (not verified) – June 2014” and I have no idea what the hell that means.
Add all that up, and we’re not finding Whitney Stark at the University of Arizona. What we do find is some reference to Whitney Start on the UofA LGBT Studies web page.
But go up one screen grab, and notice this part: “Institution: Utrecht University/CEU/GEMMA”.
In this context, I have no idea what either CEU or GEMMA mean. Not really interested.
But Utrecht University…there is something we can dig into. There must be a Whitney Stark at Utrecht University. Never heard of the place, but no matter. If it exists, Google knows.
Search for “Utrecht University”, and it looks like a real thing:
Seems legit. The summary description from the Wikipedia page describes them as:
Utrecht University (UU; Dutch: Universiteit Utrecht, formerly Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht) is a university in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands. Established March 26, 1636, it had an enrollment of 30,449 students in 2012, and employed 5,295 faculty and staff. In 2011, 485 PhD degrees were awarded and 7,773 scientific articles were published. The 2013 budget of the university was €765 million.4 The university is rated as the best university in the Netherlands by the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities 2013, and ranked as the 13th best university in Europe and the 52nd best university of the world. The university’s motto is ‘Sol Iustitiae Illustra Nos,’ which means ‘Sun of Justice, shine upon us.’ This motto was gleaned from a literal Latin Bible translation of Malachi 4:2. (Rutgers University, having a historical connection with Utrecht University, uses a modified version of this motto.) Utrecht University is led by the University Board, consisting of prof. dr. Bert van der Zwaan (Rector Magnificus) and Hans Amman.
Gotta be getting close now. There must be a Whitney Stark on staff at Utrecht. Searching their faculty directory, and we are finally at the end of the rainbow:
So there it is. Whitney Stark is a something or other at Utrecht University.
What all this means is anyone’s guess. All I can say is that it feels like a money laundering style setup to me. We’ve gone from Utrecht to Arizona to Duke to Minnesota…all these big names lending whatever shreds of credibility they have left to a “semimanifesto” dealing with “how understandings of quantum physics and cyborgian bodies can ally with feminist anti-oppression practices long in use”.
By the way, if you have no idea what that means, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean a damned thing. It’s just nonsense.