So much of what we do in the Humanities is about normalizing the marketing slogan of “everything is fluid.”
What other purpose does the mindless celebration of fluidity serve if not to make the workings of neoliberal capitalism look commonsensical?
Let’s take “gender fluidity” as an example. Why are we so into it? What’s so good about it? It undermines gender roles, bla bla. OK, why is that so great? Is it the social taboo on wearing skirts that is oppressing you or is it a precarious job with non-existent benefits and an intolerable working environment? Is it the (utterly unenforceable) need to shave your armpits that oppresses you or the fact that your job is being fluidly outsourced to a contingent worker or an interdisciplinary colleague who is eagerly scabbing for the administration?
I’m obviously not in favor of forcing anybody into the clothes or gender roles they don’t want. That goes without saying. But I’d like for us to notice a connection between our truly obsessive celebration of “erasing boundaries” and the fact that erasing boundaries between academic departments and collapsing them all into one “global humanities” program is happening right now and it’s a great pretext for layoffs.
The job market in Spanish, by the way, is the worst it’s ever been. And there’s no economic crisis. To the contrary, the economy is booming like it hasn’t in forever.
So why are we doing so poorly?
This is why:
There is no need for Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian, etc. because we have accepted that the only thing that is truly progressive and good is the US-inspired ‘culture’ of Instagram memes and Twitter ‘activism.’ Everything else is retrograde, boring, too nation-oriented, outdated, racistssexist, too boundaried up, and elitist. So as we sit among the ruins of destroyed “national literatures programs,” let’s ask ourselves how this situation is not the culmination of exactly the things we’ve been promoting.