Via New Pages:
Proposal for special issue of North Dakota Quarterly: “Diversity and Its Discontents”
Guest editors: Kathleen Dixon, Professor of English, University of North Dakota, and Magda Michielsens, Professor Emerita of Women Studies, University of Antwerp
Everyone claims to “support diversity.” What are they supporting? One university’s policy on “Diversity and Pluralism” says, “Policies and procedures of the University oblige its students, faculty, staff, and alumni to foster the awareness and sensitivity necessary for acceptance and understanding of all people in society.” But do such policies actually make possible understanding, not to mention acceptance, of others whose beliefs or behaviors some find distasteful or “offensive”? How do such policies deal with the conflicts that human difference often arouses? Is “diversity” this generation’s version of the nineteenth-century term tolerance? In Regulating Aversion, feminist political scientist Wendy Brown reminds us that tolerance arises out of liberal notions of freedom, and means, in part, the freedom from engagement with people and classes of people we don’t like. Is diversity a “killing concept,” as Belgian feminist philosopher Magda Michielsens argues in her paper “The Evolution of Western European Feminism and Its Relation to the New Left”? Is it a general term that supplants other more specific ones, such as blacks, women, or gays, thereby insuring a lack of engagement with any particular form of discrimination? Does the phenomenon of diversity actually make illiberal discourse possible by allowing those with social, political, and economic power to claim that they are being excluded from protection under the big tent of diversity?
We issue a call for essays and creative works from philosophers, social scientists, and humanists, including literary authors, who can shed light on the real conflicts that lie behind the current political and institutional uses of the word diversity.
Submission deadline: August 31, 2011. Submissions should be sent to:
North Dakota Quarterly
Merrifield Hall Room 110
276 Centennial Drive Stop 7209
Grand Forks, ND 58202-7209