Discrimination in footnotes

women-149577_640Two geographers have written an academic article arguing that scholars should not cite research by so many experts who are “white, male, able-bodied, economically privileged, heterosexual, and cisgendered [meaning someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were born with].

To footnote such people contributes to the “system of oppression” known as “heteromasculinism.”

It is true that in the academic world it helps a scholar’s career the more often he or she is cited by other scholarship.  These authors say that scholars should promote the work of women, gays, racial minorities, and trangendered individuals by quoting them and citing them in footnotes.

Here is my question:  How are we supposed to know?

Scholarly articles don’t give the sexual preference of their authors.  Or their race or preferred gender identity.  The APA stylesheet, in an effort presumably to prevent discrimination against women, already forbids the use of first names.  Instead, you give the person’s initials.

A field like geography, in which the authors of this article are working, involves objective research about objective places.  Say a graduate student is writing a dissertation about glaciers in Antarctica.  What if not enough transgendered geographers have been publishing on that topic?What if mostly white men have been spending time in that cold terrain and gathering the most relevant research?

Is the research topic now to be less important now than the private lives of the researchers?  Should style sheets now include identity markers?  And what would those look like in a bibliography?

Jones-Smith, E. G. [black, female, lesbian, transgendered] (2016).  Glacier formations of the South Pole.  Journal of Geography, 9: 224-257.

Rosenberg, S. L. [Jewish, male, cisgendered] (2017).  Glaciers today.  NY: Columbia University Press.

Maybe there should be an asterisk with that second reference, or a notation:  Do not use.  Actually, the publishers shouldn’t even print or peer review a book or a study by a white male scholar, since no one should refer to it, lest they contribute to “heteromasculinism.”

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