KC Johnson: Responds to criticism about his Duke Lacrosse book

Historians in the News

“Clarifying” professor Charles Piot has published his attack on the blog—promised in his appearance at the February “Shut Up and Teach” forum, in which he said that critics of the Group of 88 should “shut up and teach”—in the most recent issue of Transforming Anthropology.

In reading this post, keep in mind: above all else, the Piot article gives a sense of what is considered a scholarly publication in his field.

The “Piot Principles,” as laid out in his article:

Ignore contemporaneous documents, if doing so will advance the metanarrative.
Don’t mention conflicts of interest.
Even into spring 2007, at least one Duke professor continued to use class time for questionable non-academic activities.
In a scholarly publication, authors should avoid citations when making their most difficult-to-sustain points.

1.) Ignore contemporaneous documents, if doing so will advance the metanarrative.

a.) Reflecting the new party line, Piot claimed that the “intent” of Group members “was never to speak to the events at the lacrosse party.” Indeed, he asserted, “the ad in question was never about the lacrosse players nor about the party they hosted in spring 2006.” He cited instead—incredibly—Hurricane Katrina as a possible motivation.

Unfortunately for Piot, Wahneema Lubiano, the author of the ad, said exactly the opposite—in the cover e-mail inviting professors to sign the ad. Wrote she, “African & African-American Studies is placing an ad in The Chronicle about the lacrosse team incident.” There was no mention to broader concerns with racism or sexism, and no mention of Katrina. It’s hard to get much clearer than Lubiano’s statement.

How did Piot—who, as a member of the AAAS and Cultural Anthropology departments, certainly received Lubiano’s mass e-mail—deal with this document, which disproves his thesis?

His article did not mention the Lubiano e-mail....
Read entire article at http://durhamwonderland.blogspot.com

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