Friday, February 02, 2007

Questions to Accompany a Reading of Chapter Four of Nick's Book, #2

Q6. Given that the passage from Afzar Hussain that Nick quotes on p.102 is missing its italics, do you think Nick lazily cut-and-pasted the passage from a website -- either this page or this page -- rather than checking it with any great care against the text of the original?

Q7. Uma Narayan teaches in a Philosophy Department, and her degrees, up to Ph.D., are in Philosophy, which is a discipline not known to be especially friendly to, e.g., deconstruction and other forms of post-structuralist criticism. Her book, Dislocating Cultures won the American Political Science Association’s Victoria Shuck Prize for the Best Book on Women and Politics published in 1997, and the APSA -- of which I'm a member -- really isn’t a hotbed of postmodernism. Her book is, furthermore, written in clear prose, and the jargon terms that she uses are clearly explained. Given facts like these, do you think Nick has good grounds for calling Uma Narayan “a fellow theorist” [p.101], given all the negative connotations that go along with that word in his mind?

Q8. Do you think that Nick has opened Narayan’s (excellent) book, Dislocating Cultures? On the one hand, Nick calls her a “theorist”, which in his mind has a strong implication that she’s some kind of moral relativist. On the other hand, it is obvious from reading her book that she isn’t a moral relativist at all, but a politically committed feminist who is thinking (among other things) about the problem of providing politically effective assistance to Indian women in their struggles against various kinds of lethal violence and Hindu fundamentalists.

Q9. Given that Afzar Hussain is favourably reviewing a book which criticises some Western feminists for the way in which they sometimes ignore the voices of Indian women themselves when writing about India, why do you think Nick is so keen to pour scorn on him? In formulating your answer, bear in mind that one of the characteristic tropes of Decency is that Western leftists aren’t listening to, for example, what ordinary Iraqis have to say.

Q10. Given that the particular Western feminist that Uma Narayan is criticizing in the second chapter of her book is Mary Daly, who is exactly the kind of American academic that the Decents would tend to think is absolutely loopy, again, why do you think that Nick is so keen to mock this book and its favourable reception? [You may want to use elements of your answer to question 9 in answering this question.]


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