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Post modernism in action

Video: This dispute at QUT here in Brisbane is much more than what it may seem. While it is indeed an orchestrated witchhunt against two left academics,and a debate over ethics-- the underlying dispute also includes a challenge to the core ideology underpinning Post Modernism. This dispute coincides with the push by the university to close down its Arts and Human Services faculty.

The "offending" article can be read here.

Distinguished Disability Advocate Kevin Cocks and other members of the Disability Community speak out about the QUT PhD project entitled "Laughing at the Disabled."

Kevin Cox, who acquired his own disability in 1981 holds a Human Rights Medal (2005), a Centenary Medal awarded 'for distinguished service to disability services in Queensland' (2003) and he was also given 'the Humanities and Human Services Outstanding Alumni Award' by QUT in 2003

5 Com:

Brad | June 05, 2007

There's going to be a rally on the Gardens Point campus next week as part of the Humanities campaign. It's gaining momentum.

Dave Riley | June 11, 2007

Academics suspended for criticising thesis

Two academics have been suspended without pay for six months for criticising a thesis which poked fun at disabled people.

John Hookham and Gary MacLennan, both senior lecturers in creative industries at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), criticised the PhD work in an April article in The Australian newspaper.

The thesis is a film starring two intellectually impaired men and is entitled Laughing at the Disabled.

The academics say the men were put in cruel situations they did not understand - one in which they were sent to a rural pub to tell locals they were looking for romance, provoking advances from a drunk Aboriginal woman.

They say the scenes provoked raucous laughter when shown at a university screening.

"The purpose of humour is not just cruelty ... we don't think it's funny to mock and ridicule two intellectually disabled boys," the pair wrote in the article.

"We think we, and the university, have a duty of care to those who are less fortunate than us."

But the article led to complaints, including one from thesis author Michael Noonan, which have been upheld by a university misconduct committee.

QUT vice-chancellor Professor Peter Caldera today defended the suspensions, saying universities usually encourage controversial research.

"Universities are environments which encourage academic freedom; that's what they should be doing," he told ABC radio.

He said academic freedom at the university was considered "a great privilege".

"People can say it's an attack on academic freedom, people can say it's the university taking a side in the disability debate, neither is reasonable, both are nonsense propositions," Prof Caldera said.

The academics were unavailable for comment today but in an internet posting, Mr Hookham said he had tried very hard to explain what was wrong with laughing at the disabled.

He said he had raised concerns with the university that a similar film entitled Laughing at the Aborigines would never have passed the university's ethics committee.

Mr MacLennan said he was similarly shocked the project had been cleared.

"We thought that a project whose sole aim was to set up meekly disabled people, set them up in a situation in which they were going to be mocked and ridiculed, we found this highly offensive and highly unethical," Mr MacLennan said in the posting.

Louisefeminista | June 12, 2007

It is great when people hide behind the piss-poor theory that is known as postmodernism. I think they believe it is called "getting away with shoddy ideas". It is highly unethical and offensive but hey... it is all postmodern. Elitist bloody nonsense and depoliticising as well.

In one of the pieces I read someone rightly makes the distinction at mocking the powerful and the powerless. It shows that this student lacks any political understanding or solidarity with the oppressed. But hey... it is all postmodern, ya know!

Really, I think there should be a campaign called, "Bollocks to Postmodernism"!...

Andy Simpson | June 12, 2007

Of course theres' other stuff in play. The major one being that this particular university is closing down its Humanities (& Human Services) Dept at the very same time as these events are occurring.There is a major campaign against this closure.

This drama too is unfolding within the new Creative Arts faculty -- theatre, creative writing, dance, etc --(QUT's new star faculty designed to pull in enrollments and generate cred) and Hookham and McLennan had been moved into that faculty as part of university restructure.

Creative Arts is rife with all the individual POV nostrums devoid of historical relationships that are such hallmarks of postmodernist "discourse".

And it is easy to see this in the form of the research project's parameters.

Consequently within two years at this university no literature, history, philosophy, or social work will be taught -- but nursing, and journalism and "drama" will be without any of that cultural context or deepening of comprehension. And since it also houses a major education faculty to teach teaches to teach -- both junior and senior -- you can see how all this is going to pan out ideologically over time.

The related anecdote is that this Humanities dept that is being unceremoniously closed down, was where a key figure in the Aust Greens (Drew Hutton) taught; and where a theorist for another party here -- the Progressive Labor Party (the late Bob Leech) was on staff.

Louisefeminista | June 12, 2007

Andy: "Creative Arts is rife with all the individual POV nostrums devoid of historical relationships that are such hallmarks of postmodernist "discourse"

I worked in an art and design college for around 8 years and I can really relate to the above comment. The political activity was based in the unions (I was branch secretary of mine)and "individualism" was emphasised and so was postmodernism. This was reflected in the apolitical right-wing views of the students. The ideology of postmodernism is right-wing eltist nonsense rather like the way art was taught in the college. I worked in the library and I could always predict what reading matter they would borrow.

I nearly fell off my chair once when one of the students took out The Communist Manifesto and bks on Soviet art.....

If you didn't understand the art then you weren't seen as that clever. It always reminded me of the story of the Emperor's clothes.

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