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[My Most Important Post. Ever.| The political gets personal ]

A new post [Sep. 9th, 2005|05:59 am]
[mood |melancholymelancholy]

I haven't updated this livejournal in a long long time. Most of my entries are posted on my Blogger blog.  But Livejournal allows me to restrict access to posts, and with the death of my husband ten days ago, I'm feeling like some posts are too personal for the 200+ eyes that read the other blog daily.

So I'm back here -- temporarily, infrequently, sneekily.  Heartbroken.

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More information on David Graeber [May. 15th, 2005|04:30 pm]
[mood |angryangry]

An interview with anarchist professor David Graeber (recently fired from Yale University) is available online.
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Class in America -- A NYT special feature [May. 15th, 2005|08:21 am]
[mood |discontentdiscontent]

The New York Times is doing a special feature on "class" in the US.  Although there's plenty here to irk me (such as the title that calls class divisions a "shadowy line") I'm glad to see a mainstream newspaper raise the issue and challenge the mythology of class mobility and the American Dream. 
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Still more dissertation downers [May. 13th, 2005|07:27 am]
Continued from here

6. One of my chapters requires watching films that no one here in the US has copies of. DVD release has been perpetually "forthcoming."

7. Several of my chapters require travel to libraries and archives far far away.

8. I'm not sure how I can swing travel and research right now... or in the near future.
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Collateral Damage [May. 13th, 2005|06:55 am]
[mood |angryangry]

Another tragic day in US history

Twenty years ago today, the Philadelphia police, with the support of local officials and the FBI, dropped a bomb on the headquarters of MOVE, a radical African American collective.  The fire started at the MOVE house and spread throughout the neighborhood, destroying 61 homes, killing five children and six adults, and leaving over 200 people homeless.

I encourage you to read the novelist Alice Walker’s essay, “Nobody was supposed to live.”

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More dissertation downers [May. 12th, 2005|09:07 am]
A continuing series, started here

5. The head of my department claims she was able to write her dissertation, even though she was caretaking her dying father.
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More concerns over academic freedom... [May. 11th, 2005|03:17 pm]
[mood |angryangry]

In Support of David Graeber by Andrej Grubacic

Recently David Graeber and I wrote an article together attempting to explain why anarchist ideas have received almost no attention in the academy. When you think of it, academia is full of Marxist radicals, but only a handful of professed anarchists. We came to a conclusion that it must have something to do with anarchism's concern with forms of practice; with its insistence that one's means most be consonant with one's ends; with its stubborn rejection of the idea that we can create freedom through authoritarian means, embracing instead the position that we should embody the society we wish to create. All of this does not square very well with operating within a university. The university has survived in much the same form since the middle ages, waging intellectual battles at conferences, re-enforcing class distinctions, making cabalistic decisions in secret rooms. As we stated in our article: "At the very least, one would imagine being an openly anarchist professor would mean challenging the way universities are run and that, of course, is going to get one in far more trouble than anything one could ever write".

Ironically enough, as if he was testing his own hypothesis, internationally respected anarchist anthropologist, David Graeber, was fired from Yale University a few days ago. Of course, that wasn't the official explanation. The official one reads that "his contract wasn't renewed" because of his lack of "collegiality". If you would allow me to translate this: the "lack of collegiality" that David had showed was when he was trying to defend his graduate students who were graduate union organizers. Union organizers are regularly targeted at Yale. When one brilliant graduate student organizer was almost kicked out for clearly fabricated reasons, David Graeber was the only member of her committee with the courage to openly stand up for her at that committee meeting, and then later at a faculty meeting. On david Graeber's behalf, Yale graduate students have initiated a petition which has been signed by almost all graduate and good number of undergraduate students of anthropology.

So, why has David Graeber been given the boot? To begin with the obvious, he is an unrepentant anarchist. David Graeber was one of the spokespeople for the Anti Capitalist Convergence during the World Economic Forum protests in New York. He was an activist with Direct Action Network. He is one of the founding members of the Peoples Global Action infopoint in New York. And he had authored many essays and articles on anarchism. But he never did any organizing or activism on campus.

What perhaps was David Graeber's greatest crime was simply his apparently over optimistic belief that he could remain true to his anarchist principles within the academy. Graeber believes that graduate school should be more than a training camp for becoming a commodity on the academic market. Rather it should also be about joy and creativity. Anyone who goes through a graduate program knows that such institutions are all about socialization as an academic, much of which requires the destruction of the sense of joy and creativity in learning, thinking and imagining that draws people to become scholars in the first place. For certain, some universities are worse then others. For various reasons, Yale seems to specialize in this kind of soul-crushing sport.

David Graeber offered his students an alternative model. He believes that it's possible to be an academic intellectual and not an academic prostitute, that it is possible not to sacrifice everything that makes life enjoyable, that it is possible to be both intellectually productive and politically committed. Given such convictions, is it little wonder that David Graeber was given the boot?

As a close friend of David's, I have witnessed a somewhat frantic activity on the behalf of a few members of the Yale faculty to have him fired. Not incidentally, these faculty members have not been speaking to David since his name was mentioned in the papers in conjunction with the WEF protests three years ago. But ostracizing him was difficult. Not only because of few decent colleagues who ardently defended him. Since that time David has published two well respected books and articles in dozens of languages. Last year the Yale bureaucracy renewed David's contract for only two years, citing his behavior as not being in accordance with Yale's "academic ethics" and said that his contract might be extended two more years if he improved "his behavior".

Last Tuesday a meeting was held to consider David's reappointment. Only senior faculty were allowed to attend and David was not permitted to respond to his accusations, nor where his accusers expected to present evidence. After an extended slander fest, participants seem to have concluded that it doesn't really matter if the accusations are false and trivial, because his presence is clearly divisive thus it would be safer to just kick him out.

As someone who has spent many wonderful moments with David, I am certainly not neutral here. But neither should you be. This issue extends beyond the academic career of David Graeber. And beyond the price one may have to pay for advocating anarchism in the academy. In this country, at this exciting and surreal point of its history, this could happen, as it already has, on so many different levels, to anybody who refuses to participate in the Salem-like atmosphere that is being systematically promoted in institutions like Yale, or Columbia, or Colorado. To support David Graeber is to say that we have had enough of this nation-wide persecution of leftist professors, accused of 'falsifying' their "Native American identity", of supporting anti-Semitism, or of being anarchists. To support David Graeber means to support academic freedom and to reject the conformist dictate of fear and obedience in the US academy.
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What I Learned from Rolling Stone [May. 11th, 2005|09:09 am]
[mood |enragedenraged]

Damn, I am pleased with my new subscription to Rolling Stone Magazine, in no small part because Badger-boy sat down and read an article... no, not on the Motley Crue reunion tour, but on the similarities between the Iraq War and the War in Vietnam.  (Full text available here)

Here's an interesting set of statistics from the article, comparing "Iraq and Vietnam:  Two Years in":




Grounds for starting war


Gulf of Tonkin “attack”

Cost (in 2005 dollars)

$192 billion

$38.2 billion

US troops deployed



US soldiers killed



US soldiers wounded



Civilians killed (estimated)


2 million *

Journalists killed


63 *

Presidential report on war status

“Freedom is on the march in Iraq.  These are exciting times.  We’re making progress there.”  George W. Bush, February 28, 2005

“We are inflicting greater losses than we are taking.  We are making progress.”  Lyndon Johnson, November 17, 1967

The numbers for the initial stage of each war offer some striking parallels.  (Figures for Vietnam cover 1964-66, except where asterisks indicate data for entire war)

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Sign #21384 of the End of the World [May. 10th, 2005|06:23 am]
[mood |confusedconfused]

Bush reviewing the troops at Red Square?!?

(OK, I can't find a picture of him watching the tanks roll by.) 

As Spock once said, "Only Nixon can go to China."  Apparently, only the Shrub can review the Red Army.
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Ha! [May. 10th, 2005|06:13 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Your English Skills:

Grammar: 100%

Punctuation: 100%

Spelling: 100%

Vocabulary: 100%

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