Academic Absurdity of the Week: It’s Whitey’s Fault—Again

One of the main argument of a certain new book that you may have heard about is that the idea of statesmanship has been abandoned in favor of “leadership studies,” which tend to be content-free when not downright stupid. Needless to say, there is an academic journal simply titled Leadership that describes its purpose thus:

Leadership is an international, peer-reviewed journal designed to provide an ongoing forum for academic researchers to exchange information, insights and knowledge based on both theoretical development and empirical research on leadership. It publishes original, high-quality articles that contribute to the advancement of the study of leadership. The journal is global in orientation and focus.

So let’t take in a recent example of what this peer-reviewed journal thinks is an “original, high quality” article:

White Knights: Leadership as the heroicisation of whiteness

Helena LiuChristopher Baker

Abstract

This article draws on critical race theory to interrogate whiteness in dominant discourses of leadership. We conducted a discourse analysis of the media representations of 12 business leaders engaged in philanthropy in Australia to demonstrate how white practices of normalisation, solipsism and ontological expansiveness underpin the construction of white leaders as speaking for society, mastering all environments and self-sacrificing for the greater good. Our analysis suggests that ‘doing leadership’ is inextricably linked to ‘doing whiteness’, while the invisible presence of whiteness in leadership discourses sustains white power and privilege. By ‘naming’ whiteness and its practices, we aspire to unhinge it from its location as transparent, dominant and ordinary, and begin theorising leadership in ways that are conducive to the goals of racial equality.

Original? Funny coincidence that all these articles seem to arrive at the same conclusion: it’s all whitey’s fault that I’m oppressed. But I think academics ought to be more careful about using the term “solipsism,” let alone “unhinge.” It makes things too easy for me. But then self-awareness is uncommon among lefty intellectuals these days. As for “ontological expansiveness,” isn’t that a misdemeanor these days, at least if you do it in front of children?

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