Peer review of paper number 93
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This paper is definitely a must-read for all interested in debates about realism and constructionism, and the politics of knowledge more generally. The argument is very subtle, but it moves ahead relentlessly. The author shows convincingly how the desire to have (and to hold, to save) underlying naïve realism is repeated in critical constructionist approaches to gender (and in different ways, and these differences are very, very interesting, to race). Maintaining the either/or of biology and the social, and situating gender in the social, leaves a savings account open for a residue of the real, here called "naked sex". This is a minimal ontology, an almost hidden commitment (recall those legendary secret Swiss bank accounts in political and spy movies… ). In the study of "race" this is repeated somewhat differently: while "race" is not maintained as something real, the frontier between nature and the social
. This is very important, because it purifies biological knowledge production and, rhetorically, repeats a racist and xenophobic logic: "go away, you are not from here". The purification is therefore, to some extent, a theoretical version of ethnic or racial "cleansing": quite alarming, as Kraus says, when it occurs in anti-racist work. The important insight here is that in this saving of little bits of the real (the "not nothing" in the title) we are not producing something else: we remain caught in the very logical and political structures we wish to oppose.
- Desmond Painter
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