The Darker Side of Higher Education: The Atlantic Economy, Epistemic Imperialism, and the Decolonial Option (a research project)

This blog has been dormant for a while, waiting for me to re-imagine my social media profile.  But I have been encouraged by a range of new readers to revive the blog, even if only temporarily.  I am in process of moving to Roskilde University to work with Eva Bendix Petersen.  This is an exciting opportunity for me.  Roskilde will be my academic domicile and it is because of this imminent move that I have been lax in keeping up with social media. For this post, I have chosen to share a substantial intellectual project that I am beginning.  This project builds on previous explorations presented at the Sociological Association of Ireland conference in 2017.  The broad project is to imagine higher education otherwise. The text below will be developed further over the coming months.


The Darker Side of Higher Education – a project

Everywhere around us we hear of the ‘crisis’ of higher education.  The fact that the ‘crisis’ is articulated through a generalised object: higher education and global university rankings are tabulated in terms of atomised institutions rather than national systems, provides a glimpse into an underlying logic of higher education.  The underlying logic is that the global system of higher education which, in its heartlands of Europe and America, is experiencing a crisis of purpose, is typical of the long history of higher education rather than a contemporary aberration. The underlying logic of the current moment of heightened competition and accelerated academic labour is an imperial and colonial one.  The ‘crisis’ discourse is a crisis of purpose within this logic rather than against it.  If we seek to resolve the contemporary crisis without critiquing it through a transnational history that demonstrates the intimate relationship between empire, colonisation, epistemic dominance, and institutions of higher education then we are in grave danger of re-inscribing an imperial and colonising logic.

What kind of crisis is the ‘crisis’ of higher education?

The core features of the emerging political economy of a global higher education system can be defined by the tension between two political rationalities – economic competition (demands that higher education produce discernible economic benefits for national economies ) and status competition (global university rankings and publication metrics ) and how these are translated into models of governance and funding priorities (systemic level); performance management, recruitment and progression systems (institutional level); and individual strategies to negotiate between personal and institutional objectives and work-life balance (subjective level).  A number of key critiques of this political economy have been mounted by various scholars such as Stefan Collini, drawing out what makes it a ‘crisis’, particularly in relation to various articulations of higher education and the outcomes of scientific endeavour as ‘public goods’.  This ‘crisis’ discourse, however, can be interrogated from the perspective of the global south, specifically the trenchant critiques offered by scholars/activists working with the coloniality of power perspectives such as Maria Lugones, Walter Mignolo, Ramón Grosfoguel, and Anibal Quijano. This perspective makes it possible to highlight the a-historical nature of the ‘crisis’ discourse and how it fails to engage with the conterminous history of empire, colonial expansion, violence, expropriation, and slavery and that of the emergence of the modern university, and that colonial structures of power infuse both the ‘crisis’ and its alternatives.  A transnational history of modern (Westernised) higher education is therefore required.  My work is arguing that an empirical focus on Britain, Ireland and the USA is justified in relation to the thesis put forward by Walter Mignolo that the Enlightenment, upon which the idea of the modern university is founded, is an integral part of European colonial expansion westwards into the Caribbean and Americas.  This analysis argues that in a similar fashion to the Iberian expansion west in the sixteenth century, Britain’s colonial expansion west and later eastwards has imprinted itself on contemporary higher education.  Two illustrative examples of how the emergence of higher education in Britain was co-constitutive of colonialism can be used here:  an account of how the rise of a mercantile class based on wealth from slavery in the Atlantic economy financed the growth of some of England’s leading universities and provides the economic basis for their position as leading global institutions; the second example focuses on the relationship between Scottish universities and development of medical education in the American colonies, referring to the use of the bodies of slaves to build medical knowledge and aid the establishment of modern medical education.

Britain’s western empire, specifically Ireland and America constitute a necessary empirical locus for a transnational history of the ‘crisis’ of higher education.  Ireland is examined in terms of how it was constituted as a semi-peripheral zone in the expanding British Empire and how higher education was constitutive of imperial knowledge entwined with domination and subjection domestically and across the Empire. It is proposed that the semi-peripheral nature of Ireland in the Empire continues to frame the development of higher education in the Republic of Ireland.  American hegemony of higher education is examined in terms of how the dominant imaginaries of higher education are based on slavery, racial science, and violence against Native Americans.

Thinking through the darker side of higher education

The Decolonial Option: Coloniality of power and its challenge to dominant studies of higher education

The main elements of the thesis are that the Atlantic economy is the foundation of capitalism; that the Atlantic economy, particularly the expropriation of resources and enslavement, generated the wealth that enabled the Renaissance and Enlightenment and thus the development of European universities; the intellectual elites in the dominant European powers represented certain strands of European thought as the pinnacle of human achievement; these ways of conceiving the world, organising knowledge, and evaluating knowledge became instruments of colonialism, that it is the close relation between modernity and colonialism that transformed local knowledge (Renaissance and Enlightenment) into universal knowledge, and that these ways of knowing and the associated global power relations persist in the modern world.  The terms of the debates in higher education studies and the ‘crisis’ of higher education present themselves as not being rooted geopolitically (in modernity/coloniality) or bio-graphically (the gender and racial structure of this knowledge).  Consequently, responses to the ‘crisis’ of higher education maintain the global hierarchy of knowledge.  The decolonial option is presented as advocating not an alternative universality but an ecology of knowledge or pluriversity.

Ireland: Settler Colonialism, Imperial Knowledge, and Platform Economy

Ireland’s integration into Britain’s Atlantic economy from the sixteenth century onwards transformed Ireland’s economic and social structures.  The Irish economy became dominated by and subjugated to the demands of the Atlantic economy – the restructuring of agriculture to feed Britain’s colonial expansion west; the organisation of Ireland’s key ports to service the westward expansion; the organisation of industry a) to service British colonial expansion and b) not compete with British industries.  Ireland’s social structure was transformed in relation to these economic and cultural processes.

The long emergence of higher education in Ireland, from the founding of Trinity College Dublin (1592) to the Queen’s Colleges (1845).  Two perspectives can be used to explain how a higher education system emerged in Ireland from the sixteenth century to the late nineteenth century.  The establishment of Trinity College Dublin (1592) can be interpreted through the perspective of settler colonialism and the role of TCD in the establishment of a colonial elite.  The move towards establishing the Queen’s Colleges (1845) in Belfast, Cork, Dublin, and Galway is explained in terms of incorporating two denominational classes into Britain’s Imperial project, particularly as Britain sought to develop its eastern Empire.  It can be argued that the founding of the Queen’s Colleges aimed to incorporate a dissenting Protestant tradition in the North East of Ireland who had been attracted to republican ideologies, particularly in the United Irishmen movement in 1789. An emerging Catholic Middle class that had been mobilised around demands for Catholic Emancipation were also a focus for incorporation within the British Imperial project.  The non-denominational basis of the Queen’s Colleges was a deliberate strategy to attract support from these denominational groups.

The Irish universities came to play a central role in the development and dissemination of Imperial knowledge.  The Geological Surveys of Ireland and then India demonstrate how scientific knowledge related to the mapping of Ireland and India were instrumental in normalising Imperial control, as cartographies of power and legitimation. The surveys also provided an infrastructure for military and mercantile control.

Human capital theory and models of inward foreign investment came to frame the development of Irish higher education policy in the 20th and into the 21st centuries.  Participation in American policy discussions led senior Irish civil servants to advance an economic and education strategy of human capital development from the 1950s onwards. The concept of the ’platform economy’ sheds light on the contemporary economic rationale for Irish higher education policy.  The economic subordination of Ireland to the USA post-1945 mirrors its subordination to British interests in the Atlantic economy.  Post-1945 is seen as the recreation of the Atlantic economy for American interests.

United States: American exceptionalism, slavery and genocide 

America’s Ivy League colleges demonstrate the intimate connection between settler colonialism, the Atlantic slave trade, and the establishment of institutions of higher education.  Burgeoning contemporary research into the relationship between higher education and slavery describe how the early colonial period established this relationship, with the emergent colleges being financed by slavery and providing a professional class for the British colonies in the Caribbean and the slave economy in the south of the American colonies.  This relationship continued into the post-independence period.  The elite nature of the Ivy League colleges and their vast endowments, premised in large part on the slave trade, have provided the material basis upon which these institutions have established their world reputation, and status in global rankings.

The historic expansion of American higher education is based on the expropriation of Native American lands and their violent expulsion from those lands.  The systematic violence against Native Americans was an aspect of the early colonial period, with the eastern seaboard being colonised through consecutive wars.  The expansion west of the United States following the Civil War also relied upon slavery.  However, the westward expansion that created the conditions for the Land Grant universities relied upon the systematic expulsion of Native Americans from their lands, leading to a catastrophic destruction of their social order.  The founding of the Land Grant universities, therefore, constitutes an act of aggression, further underlining the intimate relationship between enslavement, violence and American higher education.  America’s higher education system would provide a necessary basis for the emergence of the United States as the dominant economic force in the new Atlantic economy.

Post-1945 American academia came to dominate intellectual thought globally.  At least two case studies could be used to illustrate this: the impact of American anthropology on South America, on how South America was represented to the world through this, and how it was represented back to South American intellectuals; and how American sociology came to dominate the emerging discipline.  These cases provide the means to demonstrate how epistemological imperialism (and so the coloniality of power) operates in the modern period.

Global Rankings and Human Capital as Continuities in the Coloniality of Power

This project puts forward the argument that the contemporary transformation of global higher education through the two political rationalities of economic and status competition are strategic moves to secure economic and political domination of North America and Britain against the rise of emerging economies and higher education systems, for instance in China.  Global rankings, publication metrics, research finance, and control of academic publishing concentrates epistemological power in a few countries and élite institutions.  I argue that what we see here is not the diminishing of coloniality but what Mignolo and others term the imperial divide – the contestation over domination between competing empires.  Discourses of the ‘crisis’ of higher education are insufficient if they operate within the logic of the coloniality of power and that they inadvertently reinforce epistemological hierarchies. The ‘crisis’ of higher education discourses may, indeed, be acts of epistemic violence.

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Táim ag dul go Béal Feirste – I’m off to Belfast

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The library of El Escorial Photo by Xauxa Håkan Svensson  CC BY-SA 3.0     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Escorial

I am off to Belfast/Béal Feirste soon for the Sociological Association of Ireland Annual Conference.  I will write more about the papers and the conference later.

I will be giving two papers this year:

‘Biographies of Internationalisation’: Methodological reflections on using the Biographical Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM) to capture international student’s discourses and policy narratives – Speaking to Policy Speaking to Institutions (written with my colleague Lisa Moran)

How, as sociologists, do we speak to policy makers, and in this case to institutional leaders in higher education? And how do we do this in a way that troubles dominant discourses? This paper focuses upon a qualitative, Biographical Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM) study of ‘knowledge cultures’ (Tsouvalis et al. 2000), and narratives of internationalisation that are embedded within international students’ biographies. Drawing upon qualitative materials from a biographical research study of 6 students categorised as ‘international’ in one Irish university, the paper illustrates areas of confluence and convergence in international student narratives about internationalisation and ‘storylines’ that appear in Irish policy on internationalisation. The argument in this paper is threefold; firstly, that the BNIM approach (Wengraf 2001) which elicits participants’ memories, knowledge and everyday ‘life worlds’ goes farther than some ‘conventional’ approaches to interviewing in capturing how international students recreate international identities, ‘negotiate’ insider/outsider distinctions and processes of stereotyping and labelling. Secondly, it is argued that how international students interpret internationalisation as a ‘lived experience’ and express these understandings through narrative is intricately bound to how they negotiate international identities. Thirdly, we argue that the kinds of narrative generated by the BNIM approach enables us to ‘trouble’ dominant discourses of internationalisation by inviting an ethic of openness to the ‘other’ and learn from rather than just learn about the experience of internationalisation students. Such an approach helps us to think higher education ‘otherwise’.

Tsouvalis, J., Seymour, S. and Watkins, C. (2000) ‘Exploring knowledge cultures: Precision Farming, Yield Mapping, and the Expert/Farmer Interface’ Environment and Planning A 32(5): 909-924

Wengraf, T. (2001) Qualitative Research Interviewing Biographic, Narrative and Semi-Structured Approaches London: Sage

 

Sociology of Irish Higher Education or An Irish Sociology of Higher Education? The Challenge of Southern Theory.

What would happen if we viewed Irish higher education through the lens of southern theory? Southern theory argues that dominant epistemologies appear as if from no particular geohistorical location, so pertaining to be universal. Yet, these epistemologies are reflections of and inherent in the imperialism and colonialism of the metropolitan centres of Western Europe and North America. Universal knowledge is, in fact, the imperialism of Europe’s parochialism1&2 and universities have been implicit in epistemic violence as a basis for colonial power3. We need to ask whether, in interpreting Irish higher education, we have simply imported the thematic concerns of the metropole, accepted a subaltern position, and so neglected to develop a unique perspective that takes seriously Ireland as a post-colony4.

What might an Irish sociology of Higher Education look like?

  • This sociology would acknowledge that it speaks from somewhere, emerges from a particular geohistorical experience of colonialism, settler colonialism, nationalist nation-building, and globalization;
  • It would seek to re-story the history and dynamics of higher education in Ireland from that perspective, working with, beyond, and against the dominant concepts of the metropole;
  • It would speak between epistemologies5, critiquing both the continuing coloniality of power and nationalist ideology – an ecology of knowledge6.

1Mignolo, D. (2000) The Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Colonial Difference, South Atlantic Quarterly 101(1): 57–96.

2Quijano, A. (2007) Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality, Cultural Studies 21(2): 168–78.

3Grosfoguel, R. (2013) The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities: Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 11(1): 73-90.

4Connell, R. (2007) Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. Cambridge: Polity Press.

5Khatibi, A. (1990) Love in Two Languages. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

6Santos, S. (2014) Epistemologies of the South. Justice against Epistemicide. London: Paradigm.

 

 

HOW RESEARCH PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT KILLS EPISTEMIC DIVERSITY

bilbia-oso

Primera página de la Biblia del oso, traducción al castellano de Casiodoro de Reyna, basilea, 1569.

Silenced societies are, of course, societies in which talking and writing take place but which are not heard in the planetary production of knowledge managed from the local histories and local languages of the ‘silencing’ [the dominant powers] Walter Mignolo referring to Abdelkebir Khatibi’s “Love in Two Languages

 

Recently I gave a presentation on “Research Selectivity and the Destruction of Authentic Scholarship”.  An earlier iteration of this was presented at a conference in Dublin and posted here.  Below I present the text of this presentation.  It deals with the way contemporary research performance management practices result in what I and my colleagues call ‘epistemic closure’.  That is we are concerned that these management practices, related as they are to the growing dominance of English as the primary means of scientific communication, and to the determining influence of global higher education rankings and the power of the major academic publishing companies, are closing down what can be considered legitimate knowledge.


My presentation is based on early stage conceptualization for a cross European research project looking at the impact of research performance management on academic practice and identity.

In this sense it approaches the broad theme of mobility in terms of the mobility of academics, and the mobility of knowledge. That is, instead of academics looking at ‘others’ mobilities and migrations, it looks at the observers; it turns the critical gaze upon systems of higher education and academic practice in the context of dominant narratives of internationalisation of higher education.

Specifically, it began life at a conference in Poland where my colleagues Marcin Starnawski and Marcin Gołębniak presented a paper discussing the increasing pressure on Polish academics to publish in ‘international’ academic journals, where international translates as English language. They raised questions about a) the transactional costs of this national and institutional pressure (e.g. the capacity to become proficient in high status academic English – who does this, and who does not, and what are the consequences of this), and b) what impact this might have on internal academic discourse, and the issue of the possible un-translatability of key terms of debate.

This has led to cooperation around developing a research project that has now involved:

  • Exploratory empirical research in Ireland, Poland and Portugal
  • Seminars and conference presentations in Ireland and Poland
  • Work on a number of journal articles
  • Development of a COST Action proposal

Although this presentation draws largely on the Irish material, it resonates closely with that found in both Poland and Portugal.

Because of where I am giving this presentation (Galway, Ireland), it takes academics working largely through the medium of Irish in the humanities as a critical case of the phenomenon of research performance management. While it is not an exploration of the position of Irish in wider Irish society, it does touch on the contested nature of Irish as a public rather than private good.

Fundamentally we are arguing that research performance management as we often experience it is to do with more than workload, but also with knowledge work itself.

slide1

So, where to start?

Reading these two documents recently I was struck by what now appears as their naivity.

The first report, “Advancing Humanities and Social Sciences Research in Ireland”, published in 2007, sought to make the case for the humanities and social sciences in the context of dominant discourses of the knowledge economy. There was a kind of strategic accommodation here, of accepting the terms of political debate – that is the very idea of the knowledge based economy, and argue the positive case for the humanities and social sciences within the logic of this discourse.

6 years later, the Higher Education Authority produced a report that seems to have come from a more innocent time, particularly when looked at from post-2008. It argued that there was no need for Irish higher education to emulate the UK and tie performance management to crude indicators of research output. Indeed, it argued that it was and should be possible for the arts and humanities to be judged on the basis of the wide array of outputs and not merely those amenable to simple statistical capture or the algorithms of the major publishing companies.

slide1

Yet, what we see is our own institutions, in the absence of clear guidance otherwise, reproducing all the known negative effects of the Research Excellence Framework.

It is as if our institutional leaders are ignorant of, or simply ignore the findings from reviews such as this.

We can view this as a local manifestation of an increasingly globalised model of higher education – of a global political economy of higher education.

Looking across Europe, as with much of the world, we see certain regular systemic features of this political economy:

  • Government support for increased participation in higher education as part of an economic strategy to maximize the stock of human capital in aid of securing economic competitive advantage in a global economy
  • Reduction in direct funding from governments whilst promoting a process of mass higher education in conjunction with competitive funding streams and diversified income streams (e.g student fees)
  • Government steering of research priorities to meet economic needs, specifically prioritising certain STEM areas that are perceived to be close to the market, and using ideas of market readiness to evaluate all research.

 

slide1We are all fairly familiar with key features of the global higher education landscape as it relates to research selectivity.  We can conceive of research selectivity as a site for struggles over external and internal visibility, particularly for semi-peripheral higher education systems and for more peripheral disciplines.

EXTERNAL VISIBILITY

  • A defining characteristic of the political economy of higher education is that of STATUS COMPETITION – how well are we all doing in the global league tables
  • In other words institutional managers are concerned with visibility within the status economy of higher education. Politicians are concerned about this and gear funding priorities around securing greater visibility in the status economy as well as aligning research to economic requirements.

INTERNAL VISIBILITY

This largely takes the form of research performance management:

  • Management practices that increasingly seek to align individual CVs and research concerns with institutional objectives, objectives aimed at increasing the institution’s external visibility – this introduces a degree of moral coercion: if I don’t improve my visibility will this impact negatively on my institution and therefore on my colleagues
  • Alignment is enacted through various performance management practices: PMDS – annual reviews – institutional research audits – etc.

 

slide1

I want to present some of our initial reflections through Niamh’s Story. Niamh is a condensation of academics who work predominantly through the medium of Irish and who participated in our pilot study. However, while here I focus on Irish language scholarship, they mirror almost exactly the views expressed by the scholars from academics we have spoken to in Poland and Portugal, in a range of disciplines. It also resonates with evidence found in scholarship in critical translation studies, critical linguistics, and global English.   What I share with you here is obviously tentative, and emergent.

Initial inductive analysis of the pilot project interviews indicates a number of themes/motifs that animate academics’ experiences and concerns:

  • Although the time periods associated with the production process of academic publishing may be stretched out, with delays between submission and final publication, this sits within a context of time-pressure
  • Institutions and individual scholars are increasingly conscious of the desire to improve their relative position in annual university rankings
  • This can be exacerbated by national and institutional systems of research performance management. Improvement in research performance are evaluated over short time frames, generating demands to produce measurable outputs quickly
  • Because the bibliometrics privilege English language publications, and privilege journal articles, this can lead to increase in outputs in English as the PRIMARY language of academic output
  • This may also transform disciplinary ways of producing and disseminating knowledge.
  • Within the intensified environment of academia, scholars largely experience this systemic phenomenon as private troubles rather than public issues.

This is not about language itself, but about how a scholar relates to epistemic communities, including linguistic communities. It is about the link between the generation of knowledge and the people you commune with in order to do that, to push the boundaries of knowledge. In this way of thinking and being decisions about form of output, vehicle for communication, and language of communication are determined by this relationship to epistemic communities. This is posed as potentially different to the institutionally determined way of being, which is driven by publishing companies bibliometrics, and university rankings.

She sought personal, individual strategies to negotiate her way through the tensions of an institutionally managed CV on the one hand and being true to herself on the other. There were no collective or solidaristic spaces where these concerns could be mobilised as public issues. She spoke about how the various systems of performance management and audit undermined the capacity of academics to work collectively, and so either rely on individual strategies, or appear supine,

 

…the system keeps everybody in a constant state of anxiety,

trying to meet sometimes reasonable, but often

undreasonable targets across so many different

arenas of academic activity…

 As my colleague Marcin Starnawski put it, we are so busy complying with the Regime of Compliance that we don’t pause for critical reflection and so create the conditions for discussing this as a public issue rather than a personal problem.

There was a very real sense that research performance management, and feeling herself under the gaze of performance metrics Niamh managed her efforts so that she was increasing her English language publications. To make herself more visible to the institution meant making herself less visible to the epistemic communities that gave meaning to her work. This is a zero-sum game. To write more in English means to write less in another language; to create “balance” is subtractive. 

If I was to look at the ratio over the last ten years

in my own academic writing life,

the balance between writing in Irish and writing in English,

writing in English for international academic publishers,

and writing and producing material for local publishers,

it’s definitiely the direction of English,

definitely the pull is towards international publishers rather than Irish publishes;

and the presumption there is that it is superior.

This alludes to linguistic hierarchies of knowledge, even of which languages can convey knowledge, be knowledgeable. In a sense, under the dominance of English, all other languages become minor languages

Fundamentally, Niamh felt that research performance management undermined her relationship with epistemic communities, and therefore with both the nature of knowledge and knowledge production. The pressure to publish in certain kinds of English language journals broke the connection between her, meaningful exchange of knowledge, knowledge production, and authentic scholarship.

 slide1

Clearly, what we are presenting here relates to wider concerns about:

  • The intensification of academic labour
  • About forms of management practice that devalue and undermine ideas of academic freedom
  • And the privatisation of knowledge that are very closely associated with the dominance of major academic publishers in determining what ‘counts’ as valued knowledge. Lets remember that the various ranking systems and metrics are controlled by profit seeking private companies.

 In the guise of technical issues of how best to measure research performance I believe we are actually seeing a transformation in what counts as knowledge and knowledge production. However, this is not being done as a result of public debate, not articulated in the public sphere. Maybe this doesn’t matter, but I believe it does, as it concerns what the role of academic scholarship is in relation to human flourishing, and concerns the values by which we think life should or could be lived. 

But I want to touch on something in my conclusion that relates specifically to academics working with what are often called minority languages, but also makes sense in relation to large language communities that are made peripheral by a zero sum approach to research performance management as it articulates with the dominance of English.

EPISTEMIC VIOLENCE/EPISTEMICIDE

I want to briefly discuss this in relation to concepts used by the Portuguese academic Boaventura de Sousa Santos, specifically the idea that current systems of research performance management act as forms of epistemic dominance and violence, even that the imperialism of certain ideas of what counts as knowledge constitute epistemicide, the death of what Niamh referred to as an ecology of research and Santos calls an ecology of knowledge.

 

  • Research selectivity, as I have discussed it here, can be seen to be re-ordering Europe (and I will keep my remarks to Europe) in relation to hierarchies of knowledge
  • Clearly certain domains of knowledge, those deemed applied or close to the market, are privileged over more speculative knowledge practices. This is very much why the humanities is under such pressure, but also areas of epistemic practice.
  • The linguistic dimension of this new terrain is illuminating
  • We can see from Niamh’s account that her practice is indeed one of an ecology of research or an ecology of knowledge. She regularly speaks from between Irish and English, both seen as capable of articulating knowledge
  • However, the intense pressure she and her colleagues experience to render their research amenable to only certain audiences and certain forms of publication (where the mode of publication appears to be more important than the rigour of scholarship) works to make invisible Irish as a legitimate language of knowledge, in deed as not being a knowledgeable language in its own right. To different degrees the same can be said of Polish, or Finnish, or Latvian, or Hungarian, or Russian, or possibly French and German.
  • So, the Irish language, literature, artefacts can be objects of scientific inquiry, but Irish cannot be a legitimate medium for thinking.
  • The increasing requirement to produce or reproduce work in English, carries with it the inequality of languages, the suggestion that English has a unique capacity to articulate all meaning adequately. English is presumed to have the robustness to convey meaning originally conceived in a different linguistic and cultural frame.
  • This attitude leads, I believe, to epistemic closure.

This is not an argument against English as a shared language of scientific exchange, but it is an argument against a diminished ecology of research, and a call to think higher education otherwise, and not to collude in epistemicide.