Alan Sokal, Call Your Office

I didn’t think it was possible to write a better satire of postmodernism as applied to the hard sciences than Alan Sokal’s great hoax on Social Text 20 years ago. But I have found a contender . . . Wait a minute.  I think this article is for real, in Ethnic and Racial Studies:

Racial physics or a theory for everything that happened

Marcus Anthony Hunter [Sociologist—natch—at UCLA]


This political commentary invokes the concept of racial physics, a theory of race and racism influenced philosophically and metaphorically by Albert Einstein’s principle of equivalence and theories of relativity, especially in light of the recent political season. The goals for this essay are twofold: (1) provide a critical race conscious assessment of the 2016 political season both within the United States and abroad, and (2) demonstrate how race and racism reflect a broader social cosmology of great consequence, underscoring the tendency among humans to develop constructs that persist across space and time with effects that mirror the nature and properties of matter and energy.

This article is not behind a paywall, so we can sample some parts of it:

In my exploration of these persistent properties of race and racism, I found myself dreaming my way into the physics courses of Professor Albert Einstein. Awakened suddenly by the spirit of serendipity I read Einstein’s many writings, particularly his theories of general and special relativity. I was especially drawn to his insight about how gravity and acceleration/force collaborate as co-parents of the human experience of nature, matter and energy . . .

Stated differently, the history, acts and agitation between the oppressor and the oppressed since the colonial period has participated in making race function much in the way that Einstein characterizes gravity. Much like how gravity affects matter in the natural world, race in varying degrees draws people apart and together, binds people to sidewalks, neighbourhoods and institutions of civil society. Racism, in turn, operates as a socio-economic and political accelerant and force that leads to racially disparate outcomes and privileges.

The article wanders over to France, to Ann Arbor, Michigan on election day; from black holes to Black Lives Matter. None of it coherent.

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