And what is it that passes for “scholarship” among this Group of 88’er?
Information about Lubiano’s drinking habits, among other items: “There are so many half-remembered stories and pieces of stories that they jostle each other in my mind into a kind of rich but incoherent mass that’s hard to untangle—late night discussions at each others’ houses over food and drink.”
A good chunk of this scholarly article—one of three “interviews” that Lubiano lists as official publications (she double-lists one interview), and one of a mere five brief pieces, including the “interviews,” that Lubiano has produced in the last decade—consists of Lubiano reminiscing about her time at the University of Texas. It was an era, she recalled, when “we had worn ourselves out over various permutations of what came to be Ethnic and Third World Literature program.”
This process culminated in establishing e3w, which Lubiano woodenly described as “an assertion of the importance of particularities even as the rubrics themselves might change, be superseded, or be revised with regard to what those rubrics seek to name or explain.” The Group of 88’er further related, “I find myself smiling even as I think about those moments.” (It’s not clear whether Lubiano considers her smiling habits to be of scholarly significance.)
Another good chunk of this scholarly “publication” featured Lubiano telling stories about an early-1990s conference that she organized at Princeton. The event was designed “to talk about race and racism with the languages and work of a set of scholars who we thought had something to say from different disciplinary apparatuses,” and to see “what left-oriented politically-engaged academics had to say about topical issues.” These words could describe the e-mail list-serv that formed the Group of 88.
As for herself, Lubiano shared the following insight: “I describe myself as a Black Studies intellectual.” This field “has never lost sight of the political practices of elites that make use of racialization and ethnicity as formidable weapons in the work of social control.”
And the issues? Lubiano went after the Democratic Party, in predictable rhetoric from the academic fringe. “Political liberalism,” she maintained, “is of massive assistance to the oligarchy that runs the country and that includes the consistent failures of US democracy across its interests.” (This level of analytical sophistication regarding American politics mirrors that at the average Tea Bag protest.) In Lubiano’s mind, she is part of “the small segment of folks” engaged in a “consistent calling out of liberalism as the management of race to the benefit of our corporate plutocracy.” That “small segment” would be a majority in many humanities and some social sciences departments nationally.
Her interviewer asked the Group of 88’er whether the racial situation in the United States had improved in the last 15 years. Given that we have elected an African-American president, it would be hard to answer no to this question—but Lubiano nonetheless found a way to do so. “Sometimes,” she mused, “I think it’s worse especially insofar as the racialization and ethnicization of the world as the popularity of Muslim and Arab demonization proceeds apace.”
And asked what comes to her mind when the Duke lacrosse team is mentioned, Lubiano pointed to . . . her apologia for the Group of 88 (another of her scarce “publications”), co-authored with clarifying professor Robyn Wiegman and fellow Group member Michael Hardt. In that essay, which was riddled with factual errors and creative revisions of events at Duke, Lubiano listed herself and her fellow race/class/gender faculty as the true victims of the lacrosse case—victimized, that is, by “the blogs.”
But, Lubiano concluded, she shouldn’t be considered anti-student. This professor, the very same figure who chose to exploit her own institution’s students to advance her pedagogical agenda, reflected that she reminds herself, “Why do I think young people matter?”
Of course she does.
Lubiano is hardly the only Group member with a peculiar definition of how to treat the students whose tuition helps pay her salary. A chilling comment posted the other day by Bill Anderson about Lubiano’s Group colleague, Karla Holloway.
I had a conversation with a prominent Duke faculty member the other day, and he told me that in his conversations with Karla Holloway, she continued to insist that RCD were "guilty." However, her reasoning was that "guilt is a social construct," which meant that because of their race and economic status, that alone made them guilty.
When I say guilty, I don't mean in a figurative sense, but in the sense of the law. She believed that they should have been tried, convicted, and imprisoned solely because of their race and economic and social backgrounds. Those inferred guilt upon them.
Keep in mind that Karla Holloway is a faculty member at the Duke law school. Here is someone who teaches law, but believes that the law is simply a club by which people seize power and do whatever they want.
This is the same mentality that was used by the various totalitarian governments of the 20th Century that committed murder on an incomprehensible scale. To them, right was power, period.
This person was not exaggerating, and he is an accomplished academic and not given to loose talk. And I would guarantee you that Holloway is not the only Duke faculty member who thinks like this.
Imagine facing a jury with people like Karla Holloway, Houston Baker, Paula McClain, Sally Deutsch, Larry Moneta, Richard Brodhead, and John Burness. Talk about a kangaroo court.
It’s worth remembering that their colleagues just elected Lubiano and Holloway to positions on Duke’s Academic Council.
[Update, 12.58pm: Group apologist Robert Zimmerman reports that he has received an email from Karla Holloway that Anderson’s claim is “an absolute and patent falsehood,” that he’s “reporting a conversation that could never have taken place” and that it “misrepresents [her] views.” (I should note that Prof. Holloway does not respond to my emails.) On Prof. Zimmerman's blog, I have invited Prof. Holloway to submit to DIW her recollection of the conversations, and also what her "views" on the case currently are. I will post any response she supplies in its entirety.]