Monday, March 03, 2008

The other day I mentioned Andrea Smith, an assistant professor of Native American Studies at the University of Michigan who was voted down for tenure by two different faculty panels. Here's a 30-some-odd-page interview with her (pdf--they're short pages) from a 2003 appearance sponsored by the university's Institute for Research on Women and Gender. I'll just pull a few funny lines. The interview begins with a:
[Song] We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes!
We who don't believe in freedom, on the other hand, are quite well-rested, and would like a cup of tea. Here's the narcoleptic Andrea on combining activism and academia:

The big thing that happened was, when I was just doing activism, I saw going back to academia as a vacation. I didn’t necessarily see how you could do both. And I thought I wouldn’t be there very long. . . . But I actually found that the academy was actually a very easy place to do activism, because one, there was a lot more resources... financial resources and other forms of support. And also I found it was helpful. It gives you a space to critically think about your activism, whereas when I was just doing activism, I was running from rally to rally, organizing this and that, and I didn’t ever have the critical space to think, does this work? You know, I didn’t...I don’t think I even read a book for six years. So I found the academy was kind of helpful in giving...forcing you to have a little space to critically think about activism and what is the most effective strategies [sic] for ending world oppression.

Nice work if you can get it. On her classes:

Andrea: So like I had one student, for instance, she was this major George Bush fan, super born-again Christian, just not really having any of it. But then after the end of the class—this was a Native Feminism class—at the end of the class she says, “Well, I went to my InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and they were saying Bush is so great because he’s Pro-Life, but I told them, ‘He’s a killer in Iraq’,” you know, so I...but that you don’t win somebody over in one session. You have to create a space that allows them to critically think and be engaged. . . .

This can be traumatic for the unprepared:

So usually I have to actually prep people and say, “Be warned, this will not be like your class. Try not to freak out,” you know. And, and so sometimes people, if you ask people how it’s going, say, the third week versus the tenth week, you’ll get a much different response. Like with the Native Religion class, they had to read Vine DeLoria, so they were all angry because he’s anti-Christian and they’re Christian, you know. So I’m like just, you know, hang with it, see what happens. But by the end they were saying, “Remember how we all hated him? Well, he was right.” So, you know, so sometimes it’s, it's a bit of a process.

There's much more, some of it amusing, most of it incoherent. The footnotes are clearly written for the mentally disadvantaged:

10 Bible-thumper is a derogatory term for Christian fundamentalists or devout Christians who actively push their beliefs onto other people. They might have such enthusiasm that they strike their Bible to emphasize their point.

44 Happy campers is a colloquial term for a group of content, unquestioning people.

Update: Smith won the Gustavus Myers Book Award (from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights, as if you didn't know) for Conquest in 2005; Ward Churchill won a Gustavus Myers "Honorable Mention" for On the Mustache of Rutting Chickpeas in 2004.

No comments: