University of Toronto plan decimates languages, humanities programs

July 12, 2010; Jeannine M. Pitas:

James Poborsa, a doctoral candidate focusing on contemporary Chinese political art, says that the plan “would eliminate the university’s commitment to the study of East Asian humanities, leaving only the Asian Institute at the Munk Centre, which conducts research in the social sciences. With this focus on language and policy-oriented social science research, the consolidation would take our department back into an outdated model of area studies.”

Sean Callaghan, who studies modern Japanese literature and thought, agrees. “I believe this would mark a dangerous turn in Asian studies within Canada. The humanities, by its very name, should focus on the larger problems concerning the figure of the human and its place within the larger world of ideas. To do otherwise would threaten to reproduce the kinds of racisms and orientalisms the field has spent the last 30 years trying to excise.”

Dean Gertler admits that the place of cultural studies in the new school is still to be determined. Eva-Lynn Jagoe, a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese as well as the Centre for Comparative Literature, considers this a major oversight.

“I think it shows a profound lack of intellectual vision and coherence about the importance of literature and culture,” she says.

“This proposed school stands to function as a service department that will provide language instruction for public policy and international relations students. It ignores the fact that humanities departments fund the more showy sciences, and demonstrates a short-sightedness about the future of the university as well as the future of the country that will be creating a generation of technocrats with little understanding of cultural formations.”

Full article at Rabble.

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About utgeneralassembly

a group of concerned students wondering about governance at the university of toronto
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