I’m going to recommend a few books for people who come to this blog. These recommendations are going to end up split into two groups: (i) books for aboriginal activists who like to talk about ‘white’ people, and (ii) books for ‘white’ people who don’t know anything about aboriginal people (or should forget what they know).
This recommendation falls largely into camp 1, whereas my last recommendation (Seeing Red) was really more for class 2.
Barney, C.L. and Law, C.L. 1995. This Fine Place So Far Away from Home: Voices of Academics from the Working Class. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA.
This book addresses an issue near and dear to my heart: the unacknowledged class basis to academics. As someone from a working-class background who had to work 50 hours/week at a lumber yard to pay for his first two years of community college education, I pretty much ran into the same buzz-saw that these people did.
Classism is a serious problem within academia – but one that will likely never be systematically addressed. In fact, there is a great deal of hostility to even broaching the issue in most quarters.
Why you should read it:
- Details the class splits within academia, and the hostility academia has to working-class people, along with the reciprocal hostility that the working-class has to academia.
- Addresses the way that class and sociological factors impact the kind of work done in academics. What we societally define as ‘knowledge’ has a very strong class component, since only people from a certain class are involved in the production and dissemination of it.
- Helps aboriginal activists begin to think critically about divisions within ‘white’ people. Not all ‘white’ people are the same.
- Helps aboriginal activists realize that many of the problems aboriginal people face within the university are actually shared by some of their fellow ‘white’ students.
Overall, the evidence strongly indicates that much of what aboriginal activists claim is discrimination against aboriginal students is actually far more a systemic, class-based problem – not simply discrimination against aboriginal students. It would be more effective, and more truthful, for people on both sides of this divide (working-class white and aboriginal) to recognize their commonalities and co-operate.