Well, it’s only February, but I have a contender for the Worst Academic Writing Award already. It’s not of Judith-Butler-level opacity, but it’s pretty convoluted, and in fact I have a hard time figuring out what the authors are trying to say.
The whole article is as badly written as the passage I quote below. And pity me, as I had to read the whole article. Click on screenshot if you want the mental equivalent of a root canal:
This is just the opening passage, and is just a single paragraph:
It has been argued many times over the course of decades and across diverse paradigms that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education practices-as-usual (re)produce systems of dominance: be it patriarchy, heteronormativity, white supremacy, Eurocentrism, (neo-)colonialism, able-ism, classism, labor inequity, anthropocentrism, and/or others. Thankfully, there are many who are doing the critical and creative work of (re)opening STEM education to the possibility of eco-social justice to-come through a plurality of productive approaches, orientations, and stances: anti-oppressive, anti-racist and critical race-based, decolonizing and de/colonizing, queer, Indigenous, gender-equitable, post-colonial, community-based and participatory, critical place-based, inter-species, and many more. Further, there are many examples taking richly critical and complicit stances to work within and against logics of exclusion. Yet, in doing so, many of these engagements are oft depoliticized and atheoretical practices of inclusion in ways that continue othering those formerly excluded, albeit differently. As readers of the field, we note the ways in which efforts often center around questions of curriculum and pedagogy; as they should, these are central and major nodes within STEM education. How coming-to-know-nature, coming-to-know-number, and coming-to-know-technology are conceptualized and enacted matters deeply: in terms of the curricular destinations and the pedagogical pathways that might allow such learning, as well as for whom. For example, as Megan Bang and Ananda Marin (2015) remind, the curricular inclusion of Indigenous perspectives is differentially problematic if we cannot also attend to the taken-for-granted and naturalized epistemological, ontological, and axiological commitments and enactments of what we are including perspectives into. As Bang and Marin (2015) state, if science education continues to “focus on ‘settled’ phenomena as well as ‘settled’ perspectives and relations to phenomena” (p. 531), which rely on and reinforce recursive whiteness and settler privilege while simultaneously dismissing, diminishing, and denying Indigenous ways-of-living-with-nature, presence, and futurities, it will remain but a tokenistic inclusion which serves to distract from the more unsettling demands of this work and is often primarily an effort to reconceptualize and recenter the subject of dominance. Again, how curriculum, pedagogy, and its central nodes are conceptualized matters.
You could have a drinking game with this: a shot of tequila for every woke buzzword you read. The thing is, though, you’d be a goner before line ten.
Want more? Here’s the second paragraph:
Similarly, methodology is alsoFootnote1 an important site in which the movements of power occur, differentially (re)producing articulations of dominance. While these often manifest in much more subtle ways, we argue that it remains important to ask ourselves how the diverse methodologies we employ in and through our research practices as scholars of STEM education contribute or work to maintain and privilege the prevailing trajectory of STEM education. To this end, highlighting the ways in which the disciplines discipline what counts as knowledge and, more to the point, knowledge production processes, Linda Tuhiwei Smith and colleagues (2016) ask, “are methodologies simply new technologies of cultural assimilation?” (p. 133). For Smith and colleagues (2016), attending to methodology is to address lingering colonial referents which lurk within our methodological constellation of concepts (e.g., voice, identity, data, and reflexivity). To engage in critical goals yet engage in “conventional” methodologies, whose taken-for-grantedness does not and cannot identify which conventions inform them, sends a subtle yet insidious message: that alternative perspectives need to be validated in and through the norms of dominance in order to “count.”Footnote2 There is a need to actively de-center these taken-for-granted notions and to pull through alternative and multiple ways of assembling theory, practice, and ethics. However, disrupting and displacing methodologies is not strictly a call for methodological pluralism, a means of “losing the way — as losing any sense that just one ‘way’ could ever be prefixed and privileged by the definite article” (Gough 2006, p. 640, emphasis ours). It is also a call for “disrupting the hegemonic ways of seeing and how this relates to subjects making themselves dominant” (McKinley 2001, p. 76). We do not suggest that the critical and creative reworking of methodology is (wholly) a panacea to this poison. Nonetheless, there is purpose in critically engaging with the work of disrupting and displacing methodology: it is to at least dare to fail in new ways.
Do these people think they can write? This is the worst kind of obscurantist postmodernism in town, and Orwell would have a field day with it. What are the sweating professors trying to say? (See p. 271 here, in one of the funniest and most scathing book reviews every published.)
I thought this kind of execrable and impenetrable postmodern prose went out of fashion two decades ago.