New blog contribution: Moving away from jargon and excessive theoretical baggage - Graduate students in Victoria, Canada, debate the approach to readings on “democracy from below”

by Ryan Beaton, March 2, 2019

While the preparations for a gathering of a scholarly discussion on the Futures of Democracy in Victoria BC take place, a pre-seminar organized by graduate students discusses a series of readings by Fonna Forman and Teddy Cruz, Robin Celikates, Antje Wiener, and Peyman Vahabzadeh, gathered loosely under the heading of “democracy from below”. While we took a dive into the substantive content of those pieces, particularly by Celikates, I won’t rehearse that aspect of our conversation here. What stuck with me from our group discussion is a commitment to two rather “procedural” points, using that term loosely and with the understanding of course that this is simply my subjective recollection of our discussion, always subject to revision and clarification by other members of our group.

First, a number of us expressed a desire to move away from jargon, esoteric references, orother specialist language, to the extent we can manage it. It’s important to move away from jargon both to ease the discussion across disciplines and also (here I may speak only for myself) because jargon is our distinctive mode of defensiveness as academics, signaling an expertise that is often hard-earned but that too often also distances us from the phenomena we are meant to be illuminating and from non-specialist discussions of them.

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