Alexis Shotwell : Open Letter to Hypatia

Open letter to Hypatia
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Open letter to Hypatia
To Hypatia Editor, Sally Scholz, and the broader Hypatia community:
As scholars who have long viewed Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy as a valuable resource for our communities, we write to request the retraction of a recent article, entitled, “In Defense of Transracialism.” Its continued availability causes further harm, as does an initial post by the journal admitting only that the article “sparks dialogue.” Our concerns reach beyond mere scholarly disagreement; we can only conclude that there has been a failure in the review process, and one that painfully reflects a lack of engagement beyond white and cisgender privilege.
While it is not the aim of this letter to provide an exhaustive list of problems that this article exhibits or to provide a critical response, we would like to note a few points that are indicative of the larger issues. We believe that this article falls short of scholarly standards in various areas:
1. It uses vocabulary and frameworks not recognized, accepted, or adopted by the conventions of the relevant subfields; for example, the author uses the language of “transgenderism” and engages in deadnaming a trans woman;
2. It mischaracterizes various theories and practices relating to religious identity and conversion; for example, the author gives an off-hand example about conversion to Judaism;
3. It misrepresents leading accounts of belonging to a racial group; for example, the author incorrectly cites Charles Mills as a defender of voluntary racial identification;
4. It fails to seek out and sufficiently engage with scholarly work by those who are most vulnerable to the intersection of racial and gender oppressions (women of color) in its discussion of “transracialism”. We endorse Hypatia’s stated commitment to “actively reflect and engage the diversity within feminism, the diverse experiences and situations of women, and the diverse forms that gender takes around the globe,” and we find that this submission was published without being held to that commitment.
Many published articles include some minor defects of scholarship; however, together the problems with this article are glaring. More importantly, these failures of scholarship do harm to the communities who might expect better from Hypatia. It is difficult to imagine that this article could have been endorsed by referees working in critical race theory and trans theory, which are the two areas of specialization that should have been most relevant to the review process. A message has been sent, to authors and readers alike, that white cis scholars may engage in speculative discussion of these themes without broad and sustained engagement with those theorists whose lives are most directly affected by transphobia and racism.
We urge that Hypatia immediately acknowledge the severity of these concerns. In addition to retracting the article, we also believe it is imperative that Hypatia commit immediately to the following:
1. Issue a statement taking responsibility for the failures of judgment associated with publishing this article and apologize for the initial uncritical response posted on Hypatia’s Facebook page;
2. Open its general editorial norms and procedures to scrutiny moving forward;
3. Release a statement about its review practices and a plan for improvement. This statement should identify the cause of the problem and pledge to sustain dialogue with both people targeted by transphobia and racism and scholars who specialize in the related relevant subfields of philosophy in future submissions;
4. Avoid the practice of deadnaming (that is, referring to trans people by former names) and commit to developing best practices for naming trans individuals as authors and subjects of scholarly discussions.
These steps are especially important, considering that areas such as trans and race theory have historically been underrepresented and excluded from the field of feminist philosophy. Given this history, it is especially dangerous for Hypatia to stand behind an article that exhibits poor scholarship in both fields and little concern for the voices of those most impacted by “theoretical” debates on the subject of racial and trans identity.
We write with a feeling of urgency to make the Hypatia Editor, Boards, and scholarly community aware of the reception of this article and to register the dismay that we have experienced after seeing that a journal of Hypatia’s caliber–the most widely respected journal in feminist philosophy– would see this article fit to publish. As scholars who view Hypatia as an important and valued resource, we deserve and demand better.
“Note from statement writers (added 5/1): We acknowledge that this statement should have named anti-Blackness directly. The statement is not an exhaustive summary of the many harms caused by this article. We hope it will at least serve as a way to register that harm and issue a demand for a retraction. This is one step in the direction of seeking accountability for the harms committed by its publishing– and to begin a conversation about the larger problems with our discipline it represents. And we thank Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (and others) for pointing out the dangerous erasure of anti-Blackness and the erasure of the Black labor on which the rhetoric of our own letter is built”
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John P. Broome, PhD, University of Mary Washington
Natalie Ingraham, Cal State East Bay
Julie Sze, UC Davis
Carolyn D’Cruz, La Trobe University
Christopher Bennett, Queen’s University
Kathryn Medien, University of Warwick
Pierre Cloutier de Repentigny, University of Ottawa
Scott Phillips McCallum, UC Santa Cruz
Ambereen Dadabhoy, Harvey Mudd College
Jaymelee Kim, University of Findlay
Joshua Nederhood, Calvin College
Ashley Farmer, Boston University
Cornelius Reeve Gottlieb, Huxley College of the Environment
Ethel Brooks, Rutgers University
Maree Pardy, Deakin University
Emily Bosch, Concordia College – Moorhead
George Ciccariello-Maher, Drexel University
Diana Pozo, University of California, Santa Barbara
Kimberly A. Williams, Mount Royal University
Hale Konitshek, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Sarah Evans, Baylor University
Gil Morejón, DePaul University
Nicole Hernandez Froio, University of York
Denise Grollmus, University of Washington–Seattle
Chauncey Colwell, Ph.D., Retired
Laura Guidry-Grimes, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Samuel Leyba, Kansas State University
Sean Guynes, Michigan State University
Bernadette Marie Calafell, University of Denver
Theresa Warburton, Western Washington University
Shannon Woodcock, Self employed academic
Sheila Arndt, Marquette University
Jill Drouillard, Université Paris-Sorbonne
Robert Gutierrez-Perez, University of Nevada, Reno
Scott Chappuis, Bowling Green State University
Sandra Faulkner, Bowling Green State University
Christian Exoo, St. Lawrence University
S.M. Shahwan, The George Washington University
Sharone Horowit-Hendler, University at Albany
Jesse Benn, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Eric Short, University of Minnesota
Helen Boyd Kramer, Lawrence University
Karen Barad, UC Santa Cruz
Meredith Nash, University of Tasmania
Rachel Loney-Howes, La Trobe University
Omi Salas-SantaCruz, UC Berkeley
Kit Connor, Miami University of Ohio
Blas Radi, Universidad de Buenos Aires
Brandy Simula, Emory University
Judith Butler, UC Berkeley
Holly Lewis, Texas State University
Elizabeth Freeman, University of California, Davis
Neni Panourgia, Columbia University
Tanya Serisier, Birkbeck College, University of London
Sophie Ban, Syracuse University
Marla Jaksch, The College of New Jersey
Vincenza Mazzeo, McGill University
Anne-Marie Schultz, Baylor University
Emma K. Russell, Deakin University
Charlotte O’Neill, The University of Sheffield
j wallace skelton, OISE University of Toronto
Erika Strandjord, Concordia College, Moorhead, MN
Jade Sasser, University of California, Riverside
Riki Lane, Monash University
Charl Landsberg, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
Vanessa Angélica Villarreal, PhD Candidate at the University of Southern California
Suze Berkhout, University of Toronto
Timothy Snediker, UC Santa Barbara
Alexa Schriempf, former Managing Editor, Hypatia
Smaranda Aldea, Dartmouth College
Michael Berlin, UC, Irvine
Anna-Claire Simpson, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Emilie Uzoma Jacob, University of Toronto
Holly Goldstein, New York University
Cherod Johnson, University of California Berkeley
Jonas Weaver, Calvin College
Melissa Merin, Mills College, Oakland, CA
Eyo Ewara, The Pennsylvania State University
Molly Gray, Portland State University
Gabrielle Moser, OCAD University
Sonja Thomas, Colby College
Ahalya Satkunaratnam, Quest University Canada
Tyrone S. Palmer, Northwestern University
Rachel Berman, Ryerson University
Kaela Talley, None
Emily Symons, University of Ottawa
Mel Ferrara, University of Arizona
Kami Chisholm, Independent scholar and filmmaker
Jessica Thompson, University of Waterloo
Simone West, Stony Brook University
Megan Burke, Oklahoma State University
Rachel Schmitz, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Wendy Brown, UC Berkeley
Iris Young, UC Berkeley
Dawn Kaczmar, University of Michigan
Kevin Jenkins, University of North Texas
Sally Wong, Massey University
Maria Nengeh Mensah, Université du Québec à Montréal
Michael Orsini, University of Ottawa
Alexandra Rodríguez, IRGT
Kyla Schuller, Rutgers University
Michelle Esther O’Brien, New York University
Amy Li, Emory University
Trung PQ Nguyen, UC Santa Cruz
Evan Pensis, University of Chicago
Sara Yaxte, The New School for Social Research
Jonathan Doucette, UC Davis
Jina B. Kim, Mount Holyoke College
Elisabeth Paquette, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Laura Tetreault, University of Louisville
Quinn Eades, La Trobe University
Rumya S. Putcha, Texas A&M University
Laura Fairley, University of Toronto
Barrie Shannon, University of Newcastle, Australia
Jafar Al-Mondhiry, New York University
Ryan Falbisaner, Unaffliated
Dawn Rae Davis, Monterey Peninsula College
Sibelle Grisé, UMass Amherst
Karina Vado, University of Florida
Elisabeth Anker, George Washington University
Timothy Laurie, University of Technology Sydney
Andrew Anastasia, Harper College
Nat Baldino, The University of Maryland
S. Charusheela, University of Washington, Bothell
Robyn Anne Franklin, University of Louisville
Angela Semple, Trent University
Damien Riggs, Flinders University
Lisa Santosa, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Meaghen-Danielle Meaney, University of Ottawa
Alyssa Adamson, Stony Brook University
Riley Talamantes, University of Wyoming
Robbie Fordyce, University of Melbourne
Sirma Bilge, Université de Montréal
April Sizemore-Barber, Georgetown University
Kristiana L. Baez, Baylor University
Justin P. Jimenez, University of Minnesota
Amie L. Zimmer, University of Oregon
Maya Steinborn, University of San Francisco
Samira Nadkarni, Independent Scholar
Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt
Cynthia Schossberger, Washington University in St. Louis
Dick Chopper, Independent scholar and activist
Jessica Hallock, Columbia University
Sahra Taylor City, University of London
Fiona MacDonald, University of the Fraser Valley
Puck Lo, Stanford University
Halena Kapuni-Reynolds, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Dylan Hillyer, York University
Erica Saunders, Wake Forest University School of Divinity
Nicole Stark, Valencia College
Atacan Atakan, University of Arizona
Bjorn Wiffabiggun, Isafjorher University
Prerna Lal, EBCLC, a clinic of Berkeley Law
Joseph L Simonis, DAPPER Stats
Kwame Phillips, John Cabot University
Vikram Kohli, Northwestern University
Megan Sharp, University of Newcastle
Johann Gambolputty, Universität Ulm, Baden-Württemberg
Piya Chatterjee, Scripps College
Jih-Fei Cheng, Scripps College
Grace Cebrero, Mount Saint Mary’s University Los Angeles
Grietje Baars, City, University of London
J. Jeanine Ruhsam, WGSS, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jeffrey Cisneros, Indiana University – Bloomington
Aditi Surie von Czechowski, Columbia University
K. H. Niehaus, Goldsmiths, University of London
Lori Askeland, Wittenberg University
Charlotte Karem Albrecht, University of Michigan
Teresa Stout, The New School
Kristin L. McLaughlin, University at Albany – SUNY
Jack Halberstam, Columbia University
Vern Harner, University of Washington
Ian Alan Paul, SUNY Stony Brook
EJ Gonzalez-Polledo, University of Sheffield
Matías Bascuñán, Emory University
Therí A. Pickens, Bates College
Edward OByrn, Penn State University
Emma Velez, Penn State University
Rushaan Kumar, Pomona College
Kaity Newman, Penn State University
Eric Anthony Grollman, University of Richmond
Kevin Bruyneel, Babson College
Jacqueline Vickey, University of North Texas
Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Samantha Langsdale, University of North Texas
Cassius Adair, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Brittnay Proctor, Northwestern University
Andrew Robbins, University of Oregon
Joseph Keady, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Christopher Munt, Purdue Universuty
Benjamin H. Brewer, Emory University
Stef Murawsky, University of Cincinnati
William Paris, Penn State University
Elisabeth Udyawar, Carnegie Mellon University
Vladimir Ulyanov, Kazan University
Emek Ergun, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Paige Hermansen, Westfield State University
Nicolás de León, University of Wisconsin at Whitewater
Heather Williams, University of North Texas
Sarah T. Hamid, Microsoft Research New England
Lucilla Pan, Emory University
Cameron Aitken, Central European University
Noel Kirsch, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Bonnie Sheehey, University of Oregon
Joe Fritsch, Emory University, Student
Chase de Saint-Félix, American University
Jacob Evoy, University of Western Ontario
Joshua Navon, Columbia University
Autumn Kent, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Carrie Sheffield, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Amanda Reyes, University of California Santa Cruz
Jennifer Schwarz, Unaffiliated (13 yr high school educator)
Joie Meier, Stony Brook University
Jinah Kim, California State University, Northridge
Regina N. Bradley, Armstrong State University
JoAnna R. Murphy, Rowan University, New Jersey
Elias Vitulli, Mount Holyoke College
Ari Stoetl, Centre for Poetics and Aesthetics, LYC
Thomas Bretz, Utah Valley University
Sandra K Soto, University of Arizona
Roy Pérez, Willamette University
Ezgi Sertler, Michigan State University
Ellen Kirkpatrick, Kingston University, London
Katie Strom, California State University East Bay
Gabriel Rockhill, Villanova University
Christoph Hanssmann, University of California, San Francisco
Kathy-Ann Tan, JFK Institute of North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
Gwynne Fulton, Villanova University
Ruth Pearce, University of Warwick
Jesse Carr, Beloit College
Keyvan Shafiei, Georgetown University