Academic Absurdity of the Week: Say What?

Now that the dust is finally settling on the election (except for the Jill Stein recount dustup), we can get back to our regular Monday spotlight on random acts of academic absurdity. Like the following article from the journal Human Relations, which seems designed to make any intelligible relation between a human reader and the text impossible:

Gender as multiplicity: Desire, displacement, difference and dispersion

Stephen Linstead, University of York, UK, and Alison Pullen, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.


This article argues that although gender is no longer widely considered to be a property of individuals, the alternative of viewing it in terms of performativity, where it is the outcome of linguistic and social performances, unnecessarily limits the possibilities of thinking of gender as a form of multiplicity that is both internally and externally differentiated. Any attempt to move beyond binary thinking in gender relations initiates a consideration of multiplicity, and the way in which multiplicity is conceptualized exerts a critical influence on the possibilities that are opened up. This article interrogates existing understandings of multiplicity and finds three actual or possible types – multiplicities of the same, characteristic of feminist approaches which we critique through a reconceptualization of desire; multiplicities of the third, characterized by anthropological, transgender and queer theory approaches; and multiplicities of difference and dispersion, typified by the rhizomatics and fluid theorizing of Deleuze and Guattari, Grosz and Olkowski. We propose an ontology of gender as a creative and productive form of desire, realized as proliferation in Deleuze and Guattari’s model of the rhizome. Gender identity is accordingly rethought as immanence, intensity and consistency.

Got all that? Yeah, it seems like satire to me, too, but just in case, better order up a new batch of the old Voegelin t-shirts that warn, “Don’t let THEM immanentize the eschaton.”