Shar­ing gob­bledy­gook around

Bay of Plenty Times - - NATION -

In prin­ci­ple, there’s ac­tu­ally noth­ing wrong with hav­ing an Ac­tivist in Res­i­dence at a univer­sity. After all, there are of­ten guest lec­tur­ers, ad­junct pro­fes­sors and the like who have short-term teach­ing roles.

So an Ac­tivist in Res­i­dence is not too far re­moved from those con­cepts.

But it’s ob­vi­ous the die is cast as to what type of ac­tivist will be set loose among the young and im­pres­sion­able minds of the stu­dents at Massey Univer­sity.

The first ap­point­ment is Sue Brad­ford. She’s the for­mer Green MP who, be­fore go­ing to Par­lia­ment, seemed to be on the front­line of ev­ery anti­estab­lish­ment protest there was.

I doubt her opin­ions have changed much since she left Par­lia­ment.

Her new role was ini­ti­ated by a Pro­fes­sor Mo­han Dutta. He’s now Massey’s Direc­tor of the Cen­tre for Cul­ture Cen­tred Ap­proach to Re­search and Eval­u­a­tion, or CARE. What? He’s also the Dean’s Chair in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the School of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Jour­nal­ism and Mar­ket­ing, three dis­ci­plines where the em­pha­sis must al­ways be on clear, con­cise and easy-tounder­stand lan­guage.

In­trigu­ing, then, that his bio states “at the core of his re­search agenda is the ac­tivist em­pha­sis on provin­cial­iz­ing Eu­ro­cen­tric

"The num­ber of peo­ple in ex­treme poverty in the world has re­duced from just un­der 2 bil­lion in 1990, when the world’s economies were be­ing freed up, to 760 mil­lion to­day."

knowl­edge struc­tures and de­cen­ter­ing hege­monic knowl­edge con­struc­tions through sub­al­tern par­tic­i­pa­tion”. Sheesh. I’m no spe­cial­ist in gob­bledy­gook trans­la­tion, but I think that means Pro­fes­sor Dutta be­lieves the Euro­pean and Western way of con­duct­ing busi­ness through glob­al­i­sa­tion and free trade should be done away with be­cause too many peo­ple suf­fer as a con­se­quence.

All that rather flies in the face of facts from the World Bank. The num­ber of peo­ple in ex­treme poverty in the world has re­duced from just un­der 2 bil­lion in 1990, when the world’s economies were be­ing freed up, to 760 mil­lion to­day.

In other words, more than a bil­lion peo­ple have been lifted from ex­treme poverty in less than 30 years dur­ing the time of freemar­ket eco­nom­ics.

Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Dutta on ra­dio last week, Brad­ford will be hav­ing “di­a­logic in­ter­ac­tion” with Massey stu­dents.

That might be his best line yet. I guess he means Brad­ford will talk to stu­dents and then lead a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion.

But uni­ver­si­ties are sup­posed to be about the shar­ing of ideas, about of­fer­ing stu­dents — es­pe­cially in the so­cial sciences — dif­fer­ent con­cepts about the way the world works.

So per­haps after Brad­ford fin­ishes her res­i­dency, Massey might bring in an­other thought leader, some­one who could of­fer a dif­fer­ent kind of world­view on “Eu­ro­cen­tric knowl­edge struc­tures” and have a dif­fer­ent di­a­logic in­ter­ac­tion on “de­cen­ter­ing hege­monic knowl­edge con­struc­tions”. Like, oh, maybe Don Brash. The irony is that all this is hap­pen­ing at a univer­sity named after ar­guably the most right-wing, hard­line con­ser­va­tive Prime Min­is­ter this coun­try has ever had.

Bill Massey once sent 10 per cent of the coun­try’s po­lice force to Waihi to quell a gold min­ers’ strike. He hated unions with a pas­sion and couldn’t abide the Bol­she­vik and Soviet move­ments of the post World War I era.

So maybe some­time soon, to en­sure such an un­suit­able man is not com­mem­o­rated daily by hav­ing his name on the es­tab­lish­ment, per­haps the Ac­tivist in Res­i­dence could start ac­tion to change that.

After all, the name of a revered and long-serv­ing monarch can be taken from a univer­sity in the cap­i­tal city.

Surely then, that of an old red­neck farmer can be re­moved from an in­sti­tu­tion head­quar­tered in a bland pro­vin­cial city, which is seem­ingly ded­i­cated to in­cul­cat­ing its stu­dents with hard-left po­lit­i­cal the­ory.

For­mer MP Sue Brad­ford will be hav­ing “di­a­logic in­ter­ac­tion” with Massey stu­dents.

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