it is a form of grammatical resistance as a deconstructionist
May 8, 2015 1:16 PM   Subscribe

 
I love this. If a thesis isn't a thrown gauntlet, what good is it?
posted by mhoye at 1:24 PM on May 8, 2015 [17 favorites]


If you want to resist Western Colonialism why are you getting a PhD from a western-style colonialist settler University?

Why would that PhD after your name even matter to you?

Better yet: why even use a computer to write it? Why was it even in English?
posted by Avenger at 1:28 PM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


Why would that PhD after your name even matter to you?

There is a definite appeal to "beating people at their own game." There are probably more eloquent reasons, too.
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:32 PM on May 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


Better yet: why even use a computer to write it? Why was it even in English?

*places stone tablet on table*
posted by Fizz at 1:33 PM on May 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also my upcoming PhD dissertation in Molecular Biology entitled "Queering mDNA: Foucault, Interpretive Dance and Imperialist Eco-Nationalisms" will consist entirely of me strumming on a guitar and singing about the Panopticon, wearing only an anarchist banner.
posted by Avenger at 1:33 PM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


Better yet: why even use a computer to write it? Why was it even in English?

If only that had been addressed in the article.
posted by one_bean at 1:34 PM on May 8, 2015 [51 favorites]


Where does the part lacking punctuation start? Because there is a lot of punctuation here throughout, especially () and [] but also . and ... and "" and ! and also /
posted by chavenet at 1:39 PM on May 8, 2015


It's not just that there is a lack of punctuation... Stewart introduces other novel conventions. E.g.:
i refer to this country in which i live as c\a\n\a\d\a the backward slash considered wrong (see table p 1) is analogous to the wrongness of this country in its treatment of the indigenous peoples and is a daily reminder to me of the injustices in the country within which i live reminding me i can never stop fighting / advocating / resisting / protesting
Why was it even in English?

It wasn't originally -- it was in the Nisga’a language -- but his committee told him he needed to write in English. So he found a way to minimally adhere to the rules as a form of protest.

I haven't read it, but given that the dissertation is about aesthetic colonialization, I assume Stewart thinks that a dissertation forced to adhere to Western norms rather than Indigenous norms would be pragmatically self-defeating. Like a dissertation against animal cruelty bound in leather.
posted by painquale at 1:47 PM on May 8, 2015 [29 favorites]


If you want to resist Western Colonialism why are you getting a PhD from a western-style colonialist settler University?

Why would that PhD after your name even matter to you?

Better yet: why even use a computer to write it? Why was it even in English?


Because all proper resistance has the reflexive property of self-resistance. The deconstructive aspect is closely related to this. And this is intuitive to all who have experienced this in their lives.

I am serious.
posted by polymodus at 1:48 PM on May 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Thatswierdistartedreadingtfaandwenttodosomethingbutwhenicamebacktofinishreadingitithoughttomyselfthatitwouldbesomethingworthpostingtometafilterimaginemysurprisewhenirealizedthatifoundthearticleviametafilter.
posted by rankfreudlite at 1:51 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where does the part lacking punctuation start? Because there is a lot of punctuation here throughout, especially () and [] but also . and ... and "" and ! and also /

All the media I've seen claims that the dissertation has no punctuation, but this isn't true. It has little conventional English punctuation. He redefines those symbols to have different semantic, grammatical, and stylistic functions on pages xii and xiii.
posted by painquale at 1:54 PM on May 8, 2015


If you want to resist Western Colonialism why are you getting a PhD from a western-style colonialist settler University?

Why would that PhD after your name even matter to you?

Better yet: why even use a computer to write it? Why was it even in English?


(I am admittedly making an assumption about your cultural background here; correct me if I'm wrong)

Why does a First Nations person need to be told they're not doing Native resistance properly by a non-Native person?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:55 PM on May 8, 2015 [44 favorites]


not everyone loved it

On the other hand, he was immediately invited to join Oulipo.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:02 PM on May 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


Heh... everyone makes a wordcloud of their dissertation just to see what it looks like. This is the first dissertation I've seen that actually embeds that wordcloud within the dissertation itself (page 184).
posted by painquale at 2:03 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not behind this as a general practice (I am not being paid enough to grade student papers w/o punctuation or spaces), but, if you are writing a thesis on the intersection between Western epistemology and indigenous epistemology (or, rather, an indigenous epistemology), why is it unreasonable to redefine the rules of grammar and punctuation to make your point? Research in STEM fields often enough reassigns meanings to extant words to make discussion of new concepts possible, if you are trying to articulate new concepts in language, thinking, and (I gather) architecture, surely it's fair game to demand the right to redefine use of grammar and punctuation to achieve this?

Note: he doesn't actually eschew punctuation; rather, he defines specific usages and redefines others to fit his purpose. He job, at the defense, was to literally defend his scholarship (which includes defending the means he chose to express it). He seems to have done that to his committee's satisfaction.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:04 PM on May 8, 2015 [27 favorites]


not everyone loved it

Which is probably pretty much true for any and all dissertations. Not to mention everything else in the world.
posted by chavenet at 2:05 PM on May 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


why is it unreasonable to redefine the rules of grammar and punctuation to make your point? Research in STEM fields often enough reassigns meanings to extant words to make discussion of new concepts possible

I don't think that's quite the same. I don't think he is introducing new concepts such that he could not communicate his argument at all if he were forced to write in English. Rather, I think the idea is that his thesis would be pragmatically self-defeating if written in English.
posted by painquale at 2:10 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


not everyone loved it

I found this "hook" in the original Van Sun (or was it G&M?) article highly annoying, an attempt at clickbait. Although I suppose trying to get people to read an article about punctuation and architectural theory would be pretty hopeless.

More power to this guy.
posted by Nevin at 2:12 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It would have been a lot funnier if it were a UCB student.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 2:18 PM on May 8, 2015


I read all the way to page 13 before I had to stop. It isn't my area of training, but it was so full of padding it reminded me of middle school papers kids would write in order to meet some length requirement "I am going to write about Senator Joseph McCarthy and the reason I am writing about him is because I was asked to write about him by my teacher. My approach is going to take into consideration what I read and what I thought of what I read and will therefore be colored by my own perceptions of the written word. When I say 'word" I mean to 'word' in the Websterian sense of 'a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed....."

Like I said, I guess it wasn't written for me. I did find an error before he got out of his Louis Tiant windup. There on page xiii: "public education had its start in nineteenth century germany that wanted to create more disciplined soldiers after their defeat in the napoleonic wars" That doesn't even count as an oversimplification in my book.
posted by Cassford at 2:19 PM on May 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


Why would that PhD after your name even matter to you?

It doesn't have to be of private personal importance to be of importance generally.

And it's not insane to want recognition from a scholarly community for scholarly work.
posted by kenko at 2:21 PM on May 8, 2015


minotaur
posted by schmod at 2:30 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


His architecture doesn't seem to speak for itself, either.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:36 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I once saw something that is much more out there, if you know anything about architects: an Architectural PhD dissertation that was just text, no frickin' images at all, just 500 pages of text. That's revolutionary.
posted by signal at 2:51 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


i refer to this country in which i live as c\a\n\a\d\a the backward slash considered wrong

Reminiscent of Paul Erdős!

On a less happy note, this:

they called him [E. E. Cummings] experimental and innovative       not words likely to be used to describe an indigenous writer who breaks all the rules of writing (the behavioural ethics board at the university of british columbia suggested that i hire an editor as it appeared that i did not know the english language)

seems awfully grand. Defending the validity of his work is fine and probably necessary. But to complain in his own doctoral thesis about how his creativity isn't properly appreciated by some board of ethics? Because they're racist?
posted by topynate at 2:51 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's brilliant. He is using structure to make his very valid point. He broke the rules validly.

That said, it was a gimmicky way to do it, but it took guts to do it all the same. I love when someone pushes to boundaries like this. Good on him.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 3:09 PM on May 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


I don't think that's quite the same. I don't think he is introducing new concepts such that he could not communicate his argument at all if he were forced to write in English. Rather, I think the idea is that his thesis would be pragmatically self-defeating if written in English.

I... don't know. I've only skimmed through the thesis a bit, and it's not my field, but he seems to be doing something kind of interesting here -- using an indigenous method of teaching by narration to try and build his thesis by narration, both his and others'. He makes a point early on that the West is focused on time and the First Nations by space, but his writing, it seems to me is very influenced by time, in that every point ties back to a previous idea or lesson or story and that, as an architect and an architectural theorist, he has to take into account things like the history of the land (both in the human and geologic sense), which is something that at least some (certainly not all) other architects of various cultures also do.

It made me think a little of the Ise shrine in Japan, where they have been rebuilding the shrine buildings every few decades using the same materials and techniques (supposedly) used when they were first built. While that claim is probably an exaggeration, the claim is part of the architecture of the shine (in the same way that the geography of the shrine grounds, which are quite expansive and discontinuous, are also part of the architecture -- if you just look at the buildings, you see only part of the architecture.

I wonder if Stewart would agree that his concept of architecture, at least the Indigenous parts of his concept of architecture, are more about the building being a verb rather than the Western building as a noun....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:21 PM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


An awful lot of people sure do seem to know better than Dr Stewart how he should have written his dissertation.
posted by howfar at 3:58 PM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


I see the point of what he's doing, and fair play to him. But this surprised me:

There’s nothing in the (UBC dissertation) rules about formats or punctuation,” he insists.

Is that not a standard guideline in dissertation handbooks? It was in mine, although that was only MA level. (I'd dig it out except I never want to look at it again for the rest of my life.)
posted by billiebee at 4:00 PM on May 8, 2015


There on page xiii: "public education had its start in nineteenth century germany that wanted to create more disciplined soldiers after their defeat in the napoleonic wars" That doesn't even count as an oversimplification in my book.

In which you conveniently leave out the statement that directly follows:
the new teaching system was brought back to the united states (sherman 2012)
Are you suggesting that Sherman does not make this argument?

Wikipedia: Prussian Education System
The Prussian education system refers to the system of education established in Prussia as a result of educational reforms in the late 18th and early 19th century, which has had widespread influence since. It is predominantely used as an American political slogan in educational reform debates and has been used as a derogatory term for compulsory education since at least 1839.[1] The actual Prussian education system was introduced as a basic concept in the late 18th century and was significantly enhanced after Prussia's defeat in the early stages of the Napoleonic Wars. The Prussian educational reforms inspired other countries and remain important.[2] While compulsory education on the Prussian example was soon mirrored in Scandinavia, and US states as Michigan and Massachusetts started in 1835 and 1852 to adopt the Prussian example, France and the UK failed to introduce similar systems till the 1880s.
Like I said, I guess it wasn't written for me.

Indeed.
posted by standardasparagus at 4:04 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is [punctuation and formatting] not a standard guideline in dissertation handbooks?

It looks like he's carefully following all the rules that a thesis guideline would write down, and breaking the rules that are so obvious (from a colonial POV) as to be unstated. He's keeping his margins intact, he's keeping the text 1.5-spaced, numbering his figures, indenting his blockquotes, etc. Those are all the things that, at least at my university, the guidelines made a fuss about.
posted by Banknote of the year at 4:16 PM on May 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


I don't know exactly what Sherman argues but I'd say

public education had its start in nineteenth century germany that wanted to create more
disciplined soldiers after their defeat in the napoleonic wars the new teaching system was
brought back to the united states (sherman 2012) back to turtle island because they wanted a
more controllable citizenry


is an extraordinary simplification even of that Wikipedia article. Of course, it's not a history paper.
posted by atoxyl at 4:42 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


If he was working towards a degree in, say, Aboriginal Studies or Postmodern Literature, I could understand the obscurantist formatting of his thesis, since the literal words would be a part of the substance itself. But this was a thesis in Architecture. The substance is the "number of high-profile buildings, including the Aboriginal Children’s Village," and the thesis is intended to present that substance to a committee—and since the committee speaks standard English and is expecting cultural conventions like punctuation, the writer should adhere to those conventions for the sake of clear communication.h

On the other hand, they awarded him his degree, so who am I to judge? On the gripping hand, judges capitulated to this "unconventional" debate team (which among other things responded to the clock running out by yelling "Fuck the time!" and continuing to talk), so it's not too surprising that they'd capitulate to Mr. Stewart's "grammatical resistance" in the name of architecture.
posted by Rangi at 4:44 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nah, the first line of the abstract says that his purpose was to get inside the heads of Indigenous architects to find out how their culture influences their practice. That makes it more a sociological study than an architectural one.
posted by topynate at 4:56 PM on May 8, 2015


I just read a bunch of pages of this dissertation and I completely love it. It's not my field and I don't understand all the terminology and references, but I plan to read the entire document. I found it to be very clear, easy to read, enjoyable, rhythmic, and a refreshing way to engage with a scholarly subject. I was prepared to see it as one of those "paying your yearly income taxes with pennies" stunts but was impressed with how readable and engaging it was. Two thumbs way up for pulling off scholarly critique and advancing research in ones field simultaneously so deftly!
posted by skye.dancer at 4:56 PM on May 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


If he was working towards a degree in, say, Aboriginal Studies or Postmodern Literature, I could understand the obscurantist formatting of his thesis [...] But this was a thesis in Architecture.

Many architecture programs are essentially art programs. And postmodern theory definitely runs more rampant in architecture departments than literature departments. If you asked me to guess what department passed a dissertation written without any punctuation, architecture would be among my first guesses. (Maybe my first guess.)
posted by painquale at 4:57 PM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


In fact, postmodernism more or less began in architecture, didn't it? I'd forgotten that.
posted by topynate at 4:59 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm actually finding it pretty clear and straightforward to read. The text itself is plainspoken and understandable. And by giving up periods, commas, and dashes Dr. Stewart can't use some of the more complicated sentence constructions — such as the rambling independent clause that doesn't need to come in the middle of a sentence, yet far too often does anyways for no particularly good reason — you find in academic writing.

And the recurring theme in his thesis is one of him trying to incorporate non-Western practices into his architecture, and being told "no, that's not how we do things; do it the right way." With perseverance, he's able to succeed some of the time. So it seems fitting that a thesis that draws extensively on his lived experiences deconstructing colonialism in architecture would also deconstruct the colonial language he's using.
posted by Banknote of the year at 4:59 PM on May 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


One interesting thing is that, as you read more than, say, a dozen pages, it becomes fairly easy to follow. This is not Timothy Dexter; it's fairly sensical. I suspect it would be better listened to that read, in some ways.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:01 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


is an extraordinary simplification even of that Wikipedia article. Of course, it's not a history paper

Indeed. And it's the sort of simplification that we wouldn't bat an eyelid at in this context, if it were couched in appropriately academic language.
posted by howfar at 5:09 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think that a problem here is that many of those who are criticising the paper don't necessarily appreciate the full extent to which the thesis and its construction engage with significant themes in philosophy, theory of art, anthropology, cultural criticism etc. He hasn't pulled this out of his arse, he is applying a particular form of academic thought to the academic process, and at the same time working to resist allowing that academic discourse to subsume and obliterate that which it seeks to analyse. It's a genuinely ambitious approach to a PhD, and it's interesting and engaging to read.
posted by howfar at 5:17 PM on May 8, 2015 [17 favorites]


I read a lot of it yesterday, and the best thing about it is his admirable and not entirely uncreative means of resistance to the culture/language/conventions of the hegemon.

I'm unconvinced that there is much of architectural merit in the diss, though I'd love to be un-unconvinced.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:49 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


If he was working towards a degree in, say, Aboriginal Studies or Postmodern Literature, I could understand the obscurantist formatting of his thesis [...] But this was a thesis in Architecture.

Buildings have not been buildings for a long time; instead they do horrible things like 'engage in dialogue.'

As others have pointed out, this totally fits in with current architectural practice. While I agree with a lot of the critiques of this dissertation which I've read, I'd say those critiques apply to the whole damn field, not just to this guy's work.
posted by kanewai at 5:49 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


"(the behavioural ethics board at the university of british columbia suggested that i hire an editor as it appeared that i did not know the english language)"

Defending the validity of his work is fine and probably necessary. But to complain in his own doctoral thesis about how his creativity isn't properly appreciated by some board of ethics? Because they're racist?


I don't know, man. If he had been that Guy In Your MFA, he might have been applauded for his daring, or derided for the banality of his challenge to academe, but probably no one would have accused him of not knowing the English language. Which, given that you've got at least two degrees under your belt and passed your comps before you get to defending your thesis a little shitty to suggest.
posted by looli at 7:42 PM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


howfar has it. It's not that it wasn't written for everyone to read, but it was written for people who understood its context and which tropes it was deliberately breaking and why. Some of the readers will be separated by cultural distance, some aren't aware how much work thinking in design and archietcture has contributed to unconventional approaches to knowledge, and some don't have the background in scholarship that really helps to work out why certain theses are written in certain ways. All of this is there for anyone to pick up and read but, without it, it's hard (but not impossible) to construct a useful critique on this work.

This isn't a smart/dumb thing, it's like laughing in a movie when someone riffs on "Play it again, Sam" or when a shark unexpectedly eats the hero. It's the knowledge of previous works and rules that allow you to know what the game is and whether it is being played well.

For me, this is a valuable work in many ways. It is advancing knowledge. All of you are discussing a PhD thesis and attempting to understand its meaning. You would never have found much to discuss in my dry, Western, conventional thesis and it sits on a shelf, turning back into dust.

I am not an architect but, as a scholar, I salute this.
posted by nfalkner at 3:59 AM on May 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


There's a funny idea that seems to persist in contexts outside of humanities and liberal arts that because those disciplines are 'just writing', research papers and dissertations should be a) only concerned with 'real' things and/or b) be immediately accessible by the lay reader. We don't expect, for example, a PhD dissertation in quantum mechanics to be a breezy read. You have to have specialist knowledge in the field, or in related areas, to get something out of it.

As a PhD candidate, you're not writing for the general public - you're writing for other scholars in your field - and more particularly, you're writing a piece of assessable work that has to meet certain criteria - just like a 5-year-old doing a handwriting assignment, there are things you have to get right, and things in which you need to show a certain individuality.

A PhD is a performance, really - a performance of your knowledge, your ability to use that knowledge, and your ability to present ideas derived from that knowledge in the context of other work also derived from the sources of your knowledge. The oral defence of the dissertation just makes that performative aspect explicit - which is a why more PhDs like this happen in the North American university systems than do in Australia, where we generally don't do an oral defence - the logic being that if you've submitted the dissertation for assessment, it's worthy of inclusion in the academy, which makes candidates less likely to attempt alternative written forms.

The project being discussed ITFA is not just an architecture thesis, it's an architecture thesis within an interdisciplinary program, where the candidates will be expected to evaluate and pursue different approaches to their own work, and different modes of presentation. Unlike a quantum mechanics project in an engineering program, where you might think of something, build it, and write up the building of it (along with your 19 other co-authors and corresponding authors and that dude you had coffee with a couple of times who gets his name on the paper too) the student is not just working in one field with people from another, it is actively expected that something entirely new and different would occur because of the connections made during candidature BUT that the actual project is entirely authored by the student and represents something entirely unique in the scholarship surrounding the various themes and topics investigated.
posted by prismatic7 at 5:27 AM on May 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


This thesis is effective. It is creating discussion and what's more, it is being read.

I am still not entirely certain my entire thesis committee read my thesis, much less anyone else. Even its content (which was mostly published separately as research papers) can't have been read by more than a few hundred people.
posted by nat at 9:46 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also my upcoming PhD dissertation in Molecular Biology entitled "Queering mDNA: Foucault, Interpretive Dance and Imperialist Eco-Nationalisms" will consist entirely of me strumming on a guitar and singing about the Panopticon, wearing only an anarchist banner.


If I am ever so unfortunate as to have to produce a PhD dissertation, my defense of it would, regardless of the subject, consist entirely of me gesticulating wildly and foaming at the mouth.
posted by rankfreudlite at 9:56 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Inspired by Molly Bloom's Soliloquy?
posted by synthesizer at 11:33 AM on May 9, 2015


"Research in STEM fields often enough reassigns meanings to extant words to make discussion of new concepts possible, if you are trying to articulate new concepts in language, thinking, and (I gather) architecture, surely it's fair game to demand the right to redefine use of grammar and punctuation to achieve this?"

Well, and as other people have mentioned, architecture is specifically engaged with arbitrary structures, whether they be language or building. There's an explicit analogy in the practice of integrating indigenous spacial concepts into a building built to Canadian colonial code.

Two things that inform my thinking on this: First, about a year ago, one of my friends defended his thesis at SCI-Arc, which is known for being explicitly a "theory" school, and throughout that I got to meet a lot of his classmates who were very interested in architecture abstracted away from any true notion of physical construction (many more of them wanted to teach than to work at firms) — folks who want to be the next Lebbeus Woods.

The second is noting that Stewart has had a successful practice of actually building buildings. That gives me a lot more faith that Stewart's thesis is grounded in his actual practice, rather than a theoretical practice that precedes craft.

Because of that, I was a little disappointed in comments like "If you want to resist Western Colonialism why are you getting a PhD from a western-style colonialist settler University? Why would that PhD after your name even matter to you? Better yet: why even use a computer to write it? Why was it even in English?" because they make this seem like some sort of Sokal affair rather than a well-considered strategy from someone with a substantial practical background in his field.
posted by klangklangston at 2:48 PM on May 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


>The second is noting that Stewart has had a successful practice of actually building buildings. That gives me a lot more faith that Stewart's thesis is grounded in his actual practice, rather than a theoretical practice that precedes craft.

Just an aside, but I'm not sure I agree--after all, by this logic, successful politicians should be granted PhDs in political science on the virtue of their career success, no?

(That said, despite my own misgivings, I'll trust those in this thread who say Stewart's diss possesses content that is meaningful and appropriate given current architectural conventions.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:50 PM on May 9, 2015


by this logic, successful politicians should be granted PhDs in political science on the virtue of their career success, no?

If our hypothetical politician used their career as a way to explore a topic that's under-examined in the field of political science and did so in a way that adds something new and interesting to the body of knowledge in that field, then, yeah, that could be a legit thesis topic. They would also need to go through all the other requirements of a Ph.D. at their university. (I say this as neither an architect nor political scientist; I'm extrapolating from my field here.)

Dr. Stewart's thesis is mile wide and inch deep: It surveys many of the issues relating to indigenous architecture that have come up in his career, without going into depth in each one. But because there has been so little prior academic study of indigenous architecture, all of those issues are new things for the field to discuss. He's marking out a large area and saying all of this is worthy of future study. Now, hopefully, other architects will explore each of the issues he raises in more depth.

Because Dr. Stewart spent most of his career working on issues that the larger field wasn't paying much attention to, it lets a retrospective of his career be a valid topic for a thesis. But for Joe Politician, or another successful person near the end of their career, they'll probably have a harder time arguing why a review of their career is a novel contribution to their field. Even if Joe Politician was in Parliament for 20 years, what can he say about his career that hasn't already been examined by someone else in the field?
posted by Banknote of the year at 10:58 AM on May 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Just an aside, but I'm not sure I agree--after all, by this logic, successful politicians should be granted PhDs in political science on the virtue of their career success, no?"

I don't think that's the same logic at all, to the extent that I think you either misunderstood what I said or have a very odd picture of political science as a discipline. But yes, if a politician who was a member of an indigenous group who had extensive experience passing laws that benefited that indigenous group, then I would give more benefit of the doubt to a thesis that was less traditional and more theoretical about the intersection of their indigenous rhetoric and Western political structures than I would if the candidate had no practical experience in passing laws. It's not terribly rare for an extensively theory-based work to get up its own ass with unfounded assumptions about the practical craft of a field; that Stewart has a career actually building things means that this theoretical work is more likely to be grounded in his actual practice rather than an idealized theoretical construct.
posted by klangklangston at 1:02 PM on May 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, yeah, that makes sense to me as a sort of corroboration of or addition to an already worthy dissertation rather than an "automatic" legitimization of an otherwise inadequate one. Thanks.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:54 PM on May 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


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