OISE MA thesis denounced in Ontario legislature

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture

When neo-con politicians, media attack academics: Interview with Sheryl Nestel

Earlier this month, I interviewed Sheryl Nestel to find out her response to these accusations. Nestel has been a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education (SESE) at OISE/UT since 2000. Her research focuses on race and racism in the health professions and she has taught numerous courses relating to social inequality. Her book, Obstructed Labour: Race and Gender in the Re-emergence of Midwifery (UBC Press, 2007) received the Canadian Women's Studies Association Annual Book Prize for 2008.

Nestel feels that these critics are driven by a neo-conservative agenda that seeks to invalidate and silence any criticism of the state of Israel. In addition, she sees a connection to the general Conservative attack on research on marginalization. While Nestel is shocked that MPPs would be discussing one of her student's theses in the legislature, she is warmed by the responses from students, faculty, and the University of Toronto administration, who have defended the research and the right to academic freedom.

Le T Le T's picture

I read the thesis. I have to say that what really struck me was that this is not only an attack on criticism of Israel, it is also a full-out swipe at certain research methods used in scholarship. The methods that Peto employes are very common in work by people doing stuff in critical theory and other scholarship that focuses on marginalization, oppression, colonialism, racism, etc.. It's not surprising to me that some of the old-guard profs in old-guard departments are getting on this band wagon. This was a perfect storm of oppressive politics of the academy aligning with oppressive politics of MPs. We get dentists, lawyers and journalists demanding a couple of interviews (seems just one would have satisfied some critics) to validate the arguements of a paper that uses discourse analysis.


BTW. I found Peto's lit review pretty interesting actually. Not surprising, it was far from the Googled slop job that the media has reported.