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Pre-2008 Posts

Andrea Smith Tenure Situation

Dr. Andrea Smith

Dr. Andrea Smith, an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan with a joint appointment in Michigan’s American Culture and Women’s Studies Departments, has been denied tenure.  Smith is a highly respected radical woman of color feminist and the author of Conquest: Sexual Violence and the American Indian Genocide and other books.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published an article about the situation, and the comments are insightful and helpful so far as understanding  tenure and what some of the possible issues might be. 

What I am wondering is whether anybody has actually asked Dr. Smith what her thoughts might be so far as media and blogger attention and activism around her tenure situation?  Depending on what the facts are here — and there is no way to know, because those who made the decision are not talking and so far as I can see, Smith hasn’t issued any statement — media pressure could potentially make the situation worse.   I have a hunch those charged with tenure decisions in the nation’s universities would not want to be viewed as unduly influenced by pressures brought to bear on them by media and bloggers, and for that matter, persons up for tenure might not want to have it said (or thought) that they received tenure because decision-makers were pressured by media, bloggers, and activists  into deciding in their favor. 

It seems like there might be some value in exercising caution and waiting, at the very least, until someone hears from Dr. Smith that this is the kind of media attention she believes might be helpful to her. 

Discussion

25 thoughts on “Andrea Smith Tenure Situation

  1. Someone needs to let Heart know that porn comments are showing through on some of her older threads (Call to action and kickin it April 2007) childrens cold medicine pulled from the market, October 2007)

    Posted by cassie | March 6, 2008, 12:45 am
  2. Thanks for letting me know, cassie, I’ve removed the porn spam. I moderate every comment, so I don’t really know how those got through other than maybe I accidentally approved them instead of deleting them.

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2008, 4:37 am
  3. So I read the comments thread on the Chronicle article and it was interesting how many people wanted to figure out (without having enough information) what the problem must have been, how many seemed to think she should have known not to take a joint appointment or to publish in South End (she must have made a strategic error) and how eager how many were to advise her to “move on” although it’s not over yet. I caught this sort of hysterical tone in some of the comments, as if they were saying we want to find her mistake, so we can tell ourselves the system can be played right and we know how … or alternatively, that she has no power and should give up.

    The most interesting comment, to me, was that this decision was part of a larger plan to get rid of several people. Given her strong record (and not knowing anything else about the case), that rings the truest somehow.

    She’s certainly smart not to be talking at this point, it would make her look like the proverbial loose cannon. But the show of support from elsewhere may not be entirely bad. The tone would matter a great deal. I’m not sure. And you’re quite right, I wonder if she’s been asked.

    Posted by profacero | March 6, 2008, 5:41 am
  4. I hope WordPress does not have some kind of loophole? Those two Tramadol comments are spam as well.

    Posted by Aletha | March 6, 2008, 5:47 am
  5. Yeah, Aletha, two spam comments got through– even though I moderate every comment. I’ve posted on the WP forum, asking what’s up.

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2008, 6:03 am
  6. I agree with everything you wrote there, profacero (not an unusual occurrence by any means!). I was thinking if it turned out to be a problem to her to have all of this blogger attention and pressure applied, a couple of us having said, “Wait, maybe this isn’t what she wanted, did anyone ask her,” might be good.

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2008, 5:38 pm
  7. What I am wondering is whether anybody has actually asked Dr. Smith what her thoughts might be so far as media and blogger attention and activism around her tenure situation?

    Thank YOU. I’ve been wondering this throughout.

    Maybe she wants the pressure and needs it to not look like it’s coming from her.

    But **IME** in tenure negotiations where sensitive stuff is at stake and a denial might be reviewed/reversed, this stuff is NOT HELPFUL AT ALL.

    In order for the University not to get in major trouble, it needs to stick by Arts and Sciences’ decision even more firmly, the more pressure is applied.

    Not to say people can’t/shouldn’t say it’s wrong. And not to speak for her. I just don’t know who is, or if she wants that.

    Posted by funnie | March 6, 2008, 7:47 pm
  8. (more)

    Because it’s one thing to use someone’s story, once resolved, to illustrate the point you’re trying to make about the “academic industrial complex” or whatever.

    And it’s one thing to help someone who politically can’t advocate for herself too loudly while the decision is still “open.”

    But it’s quite another to loudly protest, during the course of a decisionmaking process, in order to use one woman’s experience/life as an example of the cause YOU want to advance, without her express permission, in a way that could negatively impact the way things turn out for her.

    Posted by funnie | March 6, 2008, 7:51 pm
  9. ISI Web of Knowledge lists 5 journal publications for Smith based on her work at Michigan, that I can find. None of them are research articles. Instead, 2 are editorials, 1 is a literature review, and 2 are book reviews. She has also written a book, “Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide” which is a good achievement, but books are not peer reviewed. Any other publications of hers must be in journals that are not included by ISI, which can be a sign that they are not strong journals. So it appears that Smith has essentially no new, peer-reviewed contributions to the field, and probably that is why she is not getting tenure. Her political activism is not counted in an academic department. Creating organizations (INCITE), giving speeches at meetings or rallies, magazine and newspaper articles, interviews, nominations for awards, etc., are not viewed as academic activities. She has to publish original research in peer-reviewed, high quality, archival journals. The evidence for that seems to range from non-existent to very thin.

    Posted by Smith Record | March 6, 2008, 9:40 pm
  10. ISI Web of Knowledge isn’t the best index for all fields – she has more peer reviewed articles than that and the Duke UP book would be *rigorously* peer reviewed. I don’t know what the usual Mich. standards are, though – it could be they want *two* books in university presses, or it could be that the quality of the journal articles isn’t considered strong enough.

    It’s still odd though since one of her departments voted yes and the administration may not all be of one mind, either. It could be that some of those in charge of her case, upset about INCITE and Critical Resistance, made sure to send her file to outside reviewers who would be similarly upset and would say that the refereeing process at Duke isn’t serious, or other things to cast doubt on the quality of her academic work.

    I don’t know what the typical number of publications to have at Michigan is now, but I had a friend tenured there fairly recently (in another department) with one non peer reviewed book and one peer reviewed one, plus good articles.

    Posted by profacero | March 6, 2008, 11:24 pm
  11. “books are not peer reviewed. ”

    No, but it was published in a well-respected academic press, and Publishing The Monograph is known to be a tried and true route to tenure in many disciplines*.

    Publishing a monograph: an old route to tenure

    Praxis-based analysis: a new and developing route to tenure

    Peer-reviewed *top-flight* journal articles: considered essential in many disciplines, disposable in others.

    Smith has an article about reproductive justice in NWSA’s journal, which is peer-reviewed.

    http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/nwsa_journal/v017/17.1smith.html
    (you may require an institutional login in order to view, I don’t know)

    Is this the sort of article you characterized as an editorial? It seems to be the going style of the journal in general.

    Or, are you considering the journal of the National Women’s Studies Association to be not strong enough, as a top-flight academic journal?

    I don’t know much about NWSA, so I’m asking: do you?

    * All disciplines have different tenure standards, and women’s studies departments, due to the fact that ‘women’s studies’ is by its nature interdisciplinary, typically consist of many cross-appointees. Since most women’s studies scholars have a primary academic focus in another discipline, women’s studies departments often accept the tenure standards and recommendation of the scholar’s other department. For instance, if you were an expert in women’s studies and 18th century French History, you would likely mostly publish according to the standards of French History scholars – whether they work in books, journal articles, or otherwise – lending the women’s studies perspective to that field. Why? Because people who read women’s studies journals are mostly not interested in 18th century France, but in feminist theory.

    I’m not saying that Smith is tenure-qualified. I have no idea how UM’s women’s studies department weighs and ranks credentials (teaching awards v. research awards v. v. praxis v. journals v. grantsmanship v. monographs v. student evals v. conference papers v. editorships, etc. etc.). Everybody does it differently.

    I think it’s possible that she doesn’t meet their standards.

    I think it’s possible that the standards themselves are a legitimate area for political concern.

    I think it’s possible that the whole brouhaha is one of those internecine academic battles re: whose department is most academically “legitimate” and worthy of resources, between “American Culture” and “Women’s Studies,” with junior faculty as collateral damage.

    It think it’s possible that all three are occurring simultaneously.

    Really – who knows, other than Smith, and she may not be entirely aware, either.

    To my knowledge, all tenure votes are anonymous.
    Though people are certainly free to tell somebody what their vote was.

    OTOH, people don’t always tenure-vote like they say they did. You might be surprised (or maybe not, depending on your experience with this) how often a tenure vote doesn’t add up to the same numbers as the number of your colleagues who say they support you.

    Posted by funnie | March 6, 2008, 11:26 pm
  12. P.S. Here’s the student-faculty statement in her defense. The academic publications they cite are the Duke book and 15 peer reviewed articles. They don’t claim the South End books or other anthologies.

    http://www.woclockdown.org/ImmediateRelease-TenureForAndreaSmith.pdf

    There are apparently faculty involved but I’d like to know which faculty before opining. The thing is, as funnie says, the university cannot appear to let public pressure make this kind of decision for them … that would call the fairness of everything they do into question. To *me* this seems premature. But it all hinges on what her plans are, what she wants to do, which is again what we don’t know.

    It’s a very interesting case, though.

    Posted by profacero | March 6, 2008, 11:38 pm
  13. funnie has it exactly right.

    Posted by profacero | March 7, 2008, 5:52 am
  14. No, profacero, YOU do!😉

    An interesting mention of Andrea Smith by WOC PhD:

    http://profbw.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/indigenous-feminism-without-apology/#comments

    (note the absence of the T-word in the way Smith is discussed in this blog, which is particularly sensitive to the issues faced by women of color in academia, and the difficulty their work has in becoming canonical)

    Posted by funnie | March 7, 2008, 10:45 am
  15. oops, link to the top of the article should be:

    http://profbw.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/indigenous-feminism-without-apology/

    (accidentally pasted shortcut to comments)

    Posted by funnie | March 7, 2008, 10:46 am
  16. Here is what I have found so far on Smith’s journal publication record. The text is copied and pasted from the database entry. “Document Type” is their definition, i.e. review, book review, editorial, etc. Numbers 3-7 are not research articles, just a reworking of current knowledge. Number 2. is the NWSAJ article mentioned above, but the document type is listed as magazine/journal. If NWSAJ is considered a magazine, that is not a strong venue. Number 1. is from Hypatia, a weak journal.

    ISI does have American Quarterly in their database. The supporter’s statements say she has an article in AQ, but a search for “smith” does not yield one. If she does have an article in AQ, perhaps it is a letter or editorial that is not archived. This is not a good sign…to claim an article that can’t be found. Nevertheless, 2 of the 7 below could be considered research articles, but they just are not in strong journals.

    1. Not an Indian Tradition: The Sexual Colonization of Native Peoples. Hypatia 18(2):70 2003

    2. Beyond pro-choice versus pro-life: women of color and reproductive justice. Source:NWSA Journal 17.1 (Spring 2005): p119(23). (9397 words)
    Document Type:Magazine/Journal

    3. Social-justice activism in the academic industrial complex
    Source: JOURNAL OF FEMINIST STUDIES IN RELIGION Volume: 23 Issue: 2 Pages: 140-145 Published: FAL 2007
    Document Type: Editorial Material

    4. Dismantling the master’s tools with the master’s house: Native feminist liberation theologies
    Source: JOURNAL OF FEMINIST STUDIES IN RELIGION Volume: 22 Issue: 2 Pages: 85-97 Published: FAL 2006
    Document Type: Editorial Material

    5. “The one who did not break his promises” – Native Americans in the evangelical race reconciliation movement
    Source: AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST Volume: 50 Issue: 4 Pages: 478-509 Published: DEC 2006
    Document Type: Review

    6. Native American studies.
    Source: JOURNAL OF AMERICAN ETHNIC HISTORY Volume: 25 Issue: 4 Pages: 192-193 Published: SUM 2006
    Document Type: Book Review

    7. Restorative justice and family violence
    Source: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Volume: 11 Issue: 5 Pages: 724-730 Published: MAY 2005
    Document Type: Book Review

    Michigan is a research institution, and tenure depends on original research that has an impact on the research community, particularly to the extent it is cited by other researchers. Smith’s strengths seem to be in her teaching/book writing, not in research.

    Posted by More Record Information | March 7, 2008, 3:19 pm
  17. Dear Record-Giver,

    Your statement about research and most particularly your definition of what research *is* and how it is evidenced holds true for the traditional sciences and social sciences. However, when it comes to humanities, interdisicplinary work, applied sciences, and emerging fields, these statements do not hold together so well.

    Tenure standards for these fields are not nearly so objective or clear as determining (quantitatively or qualitatively) a faculty member’s “H-index” and then moving along to the next qualification in teaching or service.

    I notice that you did not tell me your personal opinion re: the strength of NSWA’s journal.

    I think you didn’t do this because – despite your claiming to be The Record, you are not yourself that familiar with the nitty-gritty details of tenure standards specific to Women’s Studies scholarship.

    http://userpages.umbc.edu/~korenman/wmst/journal_rank.html

    This is a transcription of a listserv discussion about – guess what – “what are the top-flight research journals in women’s studies” – related to, once again, people not being sure how to appropriately “quantify” women’s scholarship for tenure review.

    As you can see, there is much disagreement about what to count and whether ISI counts it (this from 2002):

    ***********
    I share Ruth Dickstein’s “squirm” factor, and would like to elaborate on it with respect to relying on the Impact Factor in ISI’s Journal Citation Reports for a ranking of the relative import of feminist journals.

    The first is that these are applied to science and social science journals, but not to any in the Arts and Humanities (and perhaps shouldn’t be, but that’s another topic). At any rate, that means that people who do feminist work in literature, music, art, cultural studies, etc. won’t see “their” journals listed much.

    The second, and in my view more insidious problem is that there are only about 1,500 ISI Web of Science journals in the Social Sciences whose cited references are included in the database. There are only 25 women’s studies journals among them. Here are some of the significant women’s
    studies journals NOT among them:

    NWSA JOURNAL, WOMEN’S STUDIES QUARTERLY, (list of several follows, excerpted by funnie)…or any of the feminist law journals. While it is true that references to these
    journals will be counted if they appear in any of the 25 scanned by ISI, it is quite likely that their scores would be considerably different if they were included in the group looked at systematically.

    ***************

    Since you completely ignored profacero’s earlier comment about how ISI may not be the best search tool for all disciplines, I can see how you’d probably ignore the informal, nonscientific opinions of the scholars on that discussion list.

    You may prefer to consider a library scientist’s research on the spotty (at best) coverage that even women’s-studies-specific databases offer:

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-173229270.html

    ***************

    I understand upholding and enforcing tenure standards. I think it’s quite possible Smith doesn’t meet those of UM’s women’s studies department (though, again, I think it’s also possible something else is going on, alternatively or simultaneously.)

    Still, your characterization of her scholarship is framed as though it is obviously and objectively lacking. I have a problem with that.

    Your failure to recognize and acknowledge that these are legitimately-argued battles within major research universities about this very discipline indicates that either:
    a) you are more familiar with scientific research than tenure standards,
    b) you aren’t familiar with current battles in MANY nonscientific – and some scientific – departments over whose definition of scholarship will prevail, or that
    c) you’ve already picked your side and are actively advocating against Smith.

    In any case, I wish you wouldn’t represent your postings here as fact. They are opinion, possibly misinformed opinion (as are mine – but I’m sticking to ’em).

    I can’t help but notice that you spammed your first comment here, verbatim, to/from the comments section in The Chronicle of Higher Ed. I would hate to think that you just had it out for this woman…that you simply followed stories of her around the internet, posting “The Record” as some way to imply that she’s objectively underqualified for her job and that her supporters (and possibly her) are liars…

    Posted by funnie | March 7, 2008, 6:06 pm
  18. With the ProQuest database added, here is her journal article tally. As for #8., still no American Quarterly paper found, though supporters claim there is one. Please fill in if anyone can. #13 and #14 are the same paper, same title, different journals. She may have chosen just one of them for her case. If she submitted both, that would raise eyebrows. 13 of her publications are 5 pages or less. They are commentaries, not research. 4 of them appear longer (features) and more substantial, but not in strong journals.

    1. Not an Indian tradition: The sexual colonization of native peoples
    Andrea Smith. Hypatia. Bloomington: Spring 2003. Vol. 18, Iss. 2; pg. 70
    Document types: Feature
    Publication title: Hypatia. Bloomington: Spring 2003. Vol. 18, Iss. 2; pg. 70
    Source type: Periodical

    2. Beyond Pro-Choice Versus Pro-Life: Women of Color and Reproductive Justice
    Andrea Smith. NWSA Journal. Bloomington: Spring 2005. Vol. 17, Iss. 1; pg. 119, 22 pgs
    Document types: Feature
    Document features: References
    Publication title: NWSA Journal. Bloomington: Spring 2005. Vol. 17, Iss. 1; pg. 119, 22 pgs
    Document Type: Magazine/Journal

    3. Social-justice activism in the academic industrial complex
    Source: JOURNAL OF FEMINIST STUDIES IN RELIGION Volume: 23 Issue: 2 Pages: 140-145 Published: FAL 2007
    Document Type: Editorial Material

    4. Dismantling the master’s tools with the master’s house: Native feminist liberation theologies
    Source: JOURNAL OF FEMINIST STUDIES IN RELIGION Volume: 22 Issue: 2 Pages: 85-97 Published: FAL 2006
    Document Type: Editorial Material

    5. “The one who did not break his promises” – Native Americans in the evangelical race reconciliation movement
    Source: AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST Volume: 50 Issue: 4 Pages: 478-509 Published: DEC 2006
    Document Type: Review

    6. Native American studies.
    Source: JOURNAL OF AMERICAN ETHNIC HISTORY Volume: 25 Issue: 4 Pages: 192-193 Published: SUM 2006
    Document Type: Book Review

    7. Restorative justice and family violence
    Source: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Volume: 11 Issue: 5 Pages: 724-730 Published: MAY 2005
    Document Type: Book Review

    8. American Quarterly. Not found.

    9. The color of violence against women
    Andrea Smith. Peacework. Cambridge: Dec 2000/Jan 2001. Vol. 27, Iss. 311; pg. 15, 3 pgs
    Source type: Periodical

    10. Beyond the Politics of Inclusion: Violence Against Women of Color and Human Rights
    Andrea Smith. Meridians. Middletown: 2004. Vol. 4, Iss. 2; pg. 120, 5 pgs
    Author(s): Andrea Smith
    Document types: Commentary
    Publication title: Meridians. Middletown: 2004. Vol. 4, Iss. 2; pg. 120, 5 pgs
    Source type: Periodical

    11. A Building Block of Empire
    Andrea Smith. Against the Current. Detroit: Sep/Oct 2007. Vol. 22, Iss. 4; pg. 21, 2 pgs
    Author(s): Andrea Smith
    Document types: Commentary
    Publication title: Against the Current. Detroit: Sep/Oct 2007. Vol. 22, Iss. 4; pg. 21, 2 pgs
    Source type: Periodical

    12. Conquest and compensation.
    Andrea Smith. Colorlines. Oakland: Jul/Aug 2006. Vol. 9, Iss. 2; pg. 40, 4 pgs
    Abstract (Summary)

    13. Boarding School Abuses, Human Rights and Reparations
    Andrea Smith. Journal of Religion & Abuse. Binghamton: 2006. Vol. 8, Iss. 2; pg. 5
    Author(s): Andrea Smith
    Document types: Feature
    Document features: References
    Publication title: Journal of Religion & Abuse. Binghamton: 2006. Vol. 8, Iss. 2; pg. 5
    Source type: Periodical

    14. Boarding School Abuses, Human Rights, and Reparations
    Andrea Smith. Social Justice. San Francisco: 2004. Vol. 31, Iss. 4; pg. 89, 14 pgs
    Document types: Feature
    Document features: References
    Source type: Periodical

    15. Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide
    Andrea Smith. Peacework. Cambridge: Nov 2005. Vol. 32, Iss. 360; pg. 7, 2 pgs
    Author(s): Andrea Smith
    Document types: General Information
    Publication title: Peacework. Cambridge: Nov 2005. Vol. 32, Iss. 360; pg. 7, 2 pgs
    Source type: Periodical

    16. Native American Feminism, Sovereignty, and Social Change
    Andrea Smith. Feminist Studies. College Park: Spring 2005. Vol. 31, Iss. 1; pg. 116, 17 pgs
    Document types: Feature
    Source type: Periodical

    17. Introduction: Native Women and State Violence
    Andrea Smith, Luana Ross. Social Justice. San Francisco: 2004. Vol. 31, Iss 4, pg 1, 7 pgs

    Posted by Journal Articles | March 7, 2008, 9:16 pm
  19. Heart: this person is spamming and not responding, in any way, to commentary and comments.

    See identical comments:

    http://chronicle.com/news/article/4067/protests-heat-up-at-michigan-over-tenure-case-of-expert-in-native-american-studies

    I personally think that if this individual wishes to engage in a discussion of Smith’s tenure here – a discussion that women here were NOT necessarily willing to have – s/he should explain what the goal is, and respond to the content profacero and I have posted here.

    I’m glad if my comments have helped anybody understand how this stuff works and how murky it is by nature.

    But I’m REALLY reluctant to spend any more time answering spam, nor to let allegations of untruth about Smith and her supporters stand uncorrected.

    Posted by funnie | March 7, 2008, 9:48 pm
  20. Thanks, funnie. I won’t approve any more posts from whoever that is.

    This happens all the time in the blogosphere now. Wherever there is some controversial situation where some institution’s or corporation’s or important person’s reputation is on the line, spammers get sent out to spin doctor and do damage control. It’s creepy.

    Posted by womensspace | March 7, 2008, 9:51 pm
  21. I’d like funnie to be my department chair.

    Posted by profacero | March 8, 2008, 2:08 am
  22. I wonder what Philip Deloria thinks about this. He’s at Michigan.

    Sorry, to hear about Smith. As a Native woman, I really enjoyed her book Conquest. A hard and painful read, but a necessary book.

    Posted by Jacqueline Keeler | March 8, 2008, 5:13 am
  23. OK, I started reading the CHE article and didn’t get past this:
    “who is interim director of the campus’s program in Native American studies.

    Ms. Smith is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in Michigan’s American-culture program and women’s-studies department.”
    An assistant professor with a joint appointment (twice as much service) who is also serving as a director of a program? who was trying to drown her scholarship in administrative work? Scholar-activists are often in great demand, but her two departments should have nurtured her, not buried her.

    Posted by Joanna | March 13, 2008, 10:51 pm
  24. Hello all, I just noticed some confusion here over Prof. Smith’s American Quarterly publication. Her supporters simply jumped the gun–her contribution will appear in the journal’s next issue in June. She is one of the guest editors of a forum called “Native Feminisms without Apology.” In addition to a co-authored introduction to the forum, which includes a range of essay, she also contributes a brief essay herself.

    Best,

    Curtis Marez
    Editor, American Quarterly

    Posted by Curtis Marez | May 2, 2008, 5:37 pm
  25. Thanks, Curtis Marez, for this good information.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 2, 2008, 6:37 pm

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