States of White Ignorance, and Audit Masculinity in English Higher Education
- Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society
- Oxford University Press
- Volume 17, Number 4, Winter 2010
- pp. 477-506
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Drawing upon recent literature on what has been called "epistemologies of ignorance" in relation to race, this paper examines an audit of a research project on equality and diversity in a UK university. It argues the audit functioned as a technology of ignorance. This paper suggests that the audit drew upon the cultural associations between white male academic masculinity with notions of quantification, detachment, and disembodied aggression. In this way, ignorance is seen as a form of labor. In particular, this paper suggests that current forms of neoliberal audit in UK universities could be understood in terms of Haraway's notion of scientific gentlemanly modest witnessing. But rather than the scientific gentlemanly masculinity, neoliberal audit legitimates a hyper-rational audit masculinity which casts women and racialized minorities as subjective, interested, and emotional and in so doing performs epistemic violence which maintains whiteness.