Sit back and enjoy the following paragraph from the abstract of a paper published in January by the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Human Geography:
“Feminist and postcolonial theories enrich and complement each other by showing how gender and colonialism are co-constituted, as well as how both women and indigenous peoples have been marginalized historically (Schnabel, 2014). Feminist glaciology builds from feminist postcolonial science studies, analyzing not only gender dynamics and situated knowledges, but also alternative knowledges and folk glaciologies that are generally marginalized through colonialism, imperialism, inequality, unequal power relations, patriarchy, and the domination of Western science (Harding, 2009).”
Wait. Feminist glaciology? This research is even funded by our tax dollars through the National Science Foundation.
If you slog through the paper’s well-nigh impenetrable prose without your eyes glazing over—not that you really need to—you’ll see that it’s not science at all. The chief author, a historian from the University of Oregon’s “Robert D. Clark Honors College,” uses post-modernist boilerplate to turn a normal subject of study for geographers into political propaganda.
These days, such naked politicization of science in nothing new. What’s striking about this instance, however, is that neither the co-authors, nor their university (who put out a complimentary press release about it), nor the journal’s editors see the humor in it. The paper could serve quite well as a parody of its genre. What makes it even funnier is that they’re serious. By missing the irony altogether, they sharpen it.