Sometimes a Crevasse is Just a Crevasse

David Randall

A recent study by Mark Carey, et al., on "Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research" has been going the rounds as the latest icon of academic silliness. As well it should: one rarely has the chance to read sentences such as

If the intersecting forces of colonialism, neoliberalism, and patriarchy have historically silenced and marginalized certain ways of knowing and types of knowledge produced by particular groups, such as women or indigenous people, then feminist glaciology – drawing from feminist political ecology and feminist postcolonial science studies – seeks to expose those more-than-science voices and offer a diversity of representations of cryoscapes.

"If" being the crucial word here.

But Carey's paper should prompt sadness more than amusement. The history of science is a wonderful, informative field, and works such as Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) are valuable at the very least as cautions about the power of presupposition and groupthink to obscure the meaning of new scientific data. Carey's paper reduces Kuhn's work to repetitive jargon. A proper history of glaciology would be interesting; it is a great pity that Carey wastes his time with work such as this.

Image Credit: Vikrogo, public domain.

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