UniSydney academics explain why they reject Ramsay

A week out from a University of Sydney-wide meeting of opponents of a Ramsay Western Civ Centre on campus, academic units are putting their positions on the record. A range of reasons why Ramsay is a bad idea include;

Media and comms: says a centre would be retrograde when, “Indigenous peoples are struggling to have their voices heard.” To “ ‘celebrate the west’ – the overt mission of the Ramsay Centre – means to advocate for a vision of a society that devalues the ‘non-west’.”

Political economy: “ Sovereignty has never been ceded by First Nations Australians and to concentrate a degree on ‘Western Tradition’, without the presence of Indigenous voices would be to collapse into an ideas-centred account of the actual pillage of the world by the west.” The department adds, “the risks to the reputation of the university from being associated with the Ramsay Centre far outweigh the benefits from its money.”

Anthropology: “The category western civilisation makes no sense … it encompasses a large number of area and disciplinary foci into a category that has neither a methodological or a substantive rationale.” The department adds; the “common-sense idea” of western civilisation does not “recognise the contested nature of the epistemology and value claims internal to the history of the Enlightenment” and “fails to reference the diverse, and very long durée, global dynamics of the cultural, knowledge and political projects that this category claims as its own.”

Sociology and social policy: “the proposed course appears to be organised around the construction of ‘western civilization’ as being about art, philosophy, literature, and history narrowly conceived, and not about changing social, political and institutional forms, not to mention the evolution of ideas, practices and organisational forms in science, technology, medicine, engineering and indeed business and management. … Important as the humanities are, they are not the only game in town, and a genuinely defensible course in western civilisation – not to mention the benefits flowing from the funding provided by this proposal – would not be confined to a select coterie of disciplines.”


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