restricted access 3.3: After Whiteness Studies
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useful for transitioning to a consideration of multiculturalism and, later, for assessing the peculiar rise of so-called whiteness studies.35 Marzec understands dissensus as it relates to a general investment in diversity and cultural heterogeneity within international capitalism. Readings only hints at the connection between multiplicity and race—which Marzec does not explicitly mention either —with his prophetic critique of communicational transparency as the end of “a total world of whiteness” (UR, 33). The significance of Marzec’s intervention regarding the loss of this same communicational transparency—the content -less advance of academic excellence as an ostensibly post-white development —is to link it more concretely than Readings does to the “isomorphic structure of expanding capitalism” (“SR,” 8). Indeed, the publication of scholarly research, Readings’s own enterprise, and every other academic book, no matter how radically intended, become in Marzec’s rather strict rendition of dissensus the unwitting “creation of an economic product for the advancement of capital” (“SR,” 2). Vis-à-vis Deleuze and Guattari, Marzec maintains that isomorphic capitalism features loss itself—or the more psychoanalytically inflected term “constitutive lack”—as its most prominent and exploitative feature . In this sense, drawing on Deleuze and Guattari, “capital does not proceed [in the postmodern epoch] by progressive homogenization, or by totalization, but by taking on the consistency or consolation of the diverse as such.”36 In Marzec’s summary of international capital’s isomorphic axiomatic, “heterogeneity —more significantly the struggle for different voices to be heard—is being turned against itself. [Capital] is no longer simply a matter of a center, a polis enforcing its identity and standards on everything within its grasp” (“SR,” 5). Indeed, the market itself “requires a certain peripheral polymorphy” (“SR,” 3). In that last pithy phrase, the indictment by implication against academic multiculturalism as a shill for corporate interest is clear enough. The polymorphic capacities of identity studies are renowned. And rote attachment to the margins can make a certain economic sense in a university setting that has its own marginal location within the larger isomorphic capitalist social order. But the question that remains in this borderline economistic development of dissensus is whether or not subjective polymorphy in the academy is only and absolutely a corporate capitalist ruse. If the significance of the academic turn to marked identity is to simply guarantee the properly capitalistic functioning of constitutive lack, can anything else occur in the nonexistent place of the public research university? This question is meant to follow up on Readings’s claim regarding post-white heterogeneity and academic labor, and extend it in a way slightly more forgiving than Marzec would. It is meant as a refusal to square off materiality and writing as falsely dichotomous relations. After the ruined university adjoins them within the cash nexus, economy and writing cannot be reT H E M U L T I V E R S I T Y ’ S D I V E R S I T Y 166 duced so that the former takes explanatory power over the latter. Academic work is not reducible to an anemic state of seamless (or only capitalistically seamed) conspiratorial corporate absorption. As I have alluded, the multiversity ’s afterlife is anatomized by Readings in ways that signal a domestication of Kerr’s “mob.” This forced connection with the masses is intensified given the university’s ruin, but this intensification is by no means a perfect extension of capitalism. This is where I differ, then, with Marzec. In the space between knowledge and political economy—attractive for no longer existing—there remains some political wiggle room, some way for imagining new forms of collective resistance. In this sense, the line of inquiry figured by the university’s ruin compares supportively with Nancy Fraser’s neofeminist critique of the “practical decoupling of the politics of recognition and the politics of retribution.”37 The question of diversity to which we now turn seeks to take the discontinuities that define identity studies and return them to class in a way that is critical, but decidedly nonabsolute. Multiculturalism, I will suggest, ought to be read with far less certainty than it is in the two prevailing tendencies I have described. Neither the left’s iron-fisted reduction of racial marginality to corporate conformism nor the right’s mirror charge that race studies is not conformist enough is sufficient to the task of demonstrating a persistent class interest in the ruined university, one that we may detect by evoking none other than Kerr...


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Subject Headings

  • Heterosexual men -- United States -- Psychology.
  • Education, Higher -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Education, Higher -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Whites -- Race identity -- United States.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • Men, White -- United States -- Psychology.
  • National characteristics, American.
  • United States -- Census, 2000.
  • Multiculturalism -- United States.
  • Group identity -- Political aspects -- United States.
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