We love that paragraph on objectivity and meritocracy. It resonates with our experiences of meritocracy myth objectivity in STEM, big tech, Silicon Valley, open source, and rationalist communities. We bought a copy of Donna Haraway’s “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective” to get “a conquering gaze from nowhere” and “represent while escaping representation” in context.
I would insist on the embodied nature of all vision and so reclaim the sensory system that has been used to signify a leap out of the marked body and into a conquering gaze from nowhere. This is the gaze that mythically inscribes all the marked bodies, that makes the un-marked category claim the power to see and not be seen, to represent while escaping representation.Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective on JSTOR
That requires some unpacking, but really gets to the heart of it. The “power to see and not be seen” comes up in journalism regarding any reporter reporting on their own community. It comes up in autism research regarding autistic autism researchers and in conversations between autistic parents and parents of autistics.
The poster detailed my MSc paper which found that a large proportion of the variance of poor mental health and well-being could be explained by exposure to minority stress, and parts of my first study of my Ph.D.—a qualitative investigation into autistic community connectedness. A conference delegate asked, “why did you do this research?.” I disclosed being autistic, and pointed to the clear need for the research and the delegate’s response was “oh… are your supervisors? I just worry that you might be biased in, like… you know… this research?.” In that moment I recalled reading all the accounts that I detailed above—all these “objective” accounts of my sub-humanness. I asked the delegate what they meant, and they explained further that they are not necessarily sure that an autistic person would be best placed to talk about autism, but that it should be fine as long as I have non-autistic research supervisors checking over my work, to make sure that I am being “fair,” and “equal” in my representation of autistic people. I was discounted again.Frontiers | Academic, Activist, or Advocate? Angry, Entangled, and Emerging: A Critical Reflection on Autism Knowledge Production
Haraway’s “marked bodies” reminds us of “spoiled identities” and the masking required to fit into “cultural systems that prioritize people who have, or to a lesser extent closely emulate, these traits.”
With a pathologized status comes the experience of stigma, dehumanization, and marginalization. Stigma refers to the possession of an attribute that marks persons as disgraced or ‘‘discreditable,’’ marking their identity as ‘‘spoiled.’’ Stigmatized persons may attempt to conceal these spoiled aspects of their identity from others, attempting to ‘‘pass’’ as normal. Investigation of ‘‘passing’’ and ‘‘concealment’’ has been explored in depth in other stigmatized populations; however, the application of stigma in autism research is a relatively new endeavor. Stigma impacts both on how an individual is viewed and treated by others and how that treatment is internalized and interacts with one’s identity.A Conceptual Analysis of Autistic Masking: Understanding the Narrative of Stigma and the Illusion of Choice
Those “who can not or will not perform these identities” are marginalized, and those who can are exhausted. Those who attempt to advocate for themselves are discredited by the conquering gaze.
Meritocracy is a myth.
Masking for a false meritocracy is exhausting.
The “objectivity as neutral” conceit of the “conquering gaze from nowhere” leads to discrediting marginalized people and, in turn, to some “bloody regressive politics”, as we saw with New Atheism.
From my perspective, though, the deepest of the rifts was the emerging anti-feminist wing and the active neglect of social justice issues.
I realized it’s destination was where it is now: a shambles of alt-right memes and dishonest hucksters mangling science to promote racism, sexism, and bloody regressive politics.The train wreck that was the New Atheism
Science’s eye for detail, buttressed by philosophy’s broad view, makes for a kind of alembic, an antidote to both. This intellectual electrum cuts the cloying taste of idealist and propositional philosophy with the sharp nectar of fact yet softens the edges of a technoscience that has arguably lost both its moral and its epistemological compass, the result in part of its being funded by governments and corporations whose relationship to the search for truth and its open dissemination can be considered problematic at best.
…the passive voice, “objective” stance, anonymity, and depersonalization of the scientist and journalist betray the fundamental phenomenological reality that each of us has a specific perspective. All observations are made from distinct places and times, and in science no less than art or philosophy by particular individuals.Cosmic Apprentice: Dispatches from the Edges of Science
When you measure include the measurer.
It’s not Science vs Philosophy … It’s Science + Philosophy. When you measure include the measurer.MC Hammer
I would insist on the embodied nature of all vision and so reclaim the sensory system that has been used to signify a leap out of the marked body and into a conquering gaze from nowhere. This is the gaze that mythically inscribes all the marked bodies, that makes the un-marked category claim the power to see and not be seen, to represent while escaping representation.Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective
Aiming at objectivity, they feel bound to avoid any selective point of view; but since this is impossible, they usually adopt points of view without being aware of them. This must defeat their efforts to be objective, for one cannot possibly be critical of one’s own point of view, and conscious of its limitations, without being aware of it.
The way out of this dilemma, of course, is to be clear about the necessity of adopting a point of view; to state this point of view plainly, and always to remain conscious that it is one among many, and that even if it should amount to a theory, it may not be testable.Karl Popper, Poverty of Historicism | Open Library
Get a Dose of Social Science
Disrupting Dis/abilization: A Critical Exploration of Research Methods to Combat White Supremacy and Ableism in Education
Frontiers | Academic, Activist, or Advocate? Angry, Entangled, and Emerging: A Critical Reflection on Autism Knowledge Production | Psychology
Soft domination, hold me Rule me captive, drain me empty And I need you to know me So no one else owns me Tell me you'll lift me up Tell me you'll take me out of this place Tell me you'll lift me up Tell me you'll take me out of this place --Soft Domination by Screaming Females