Did You Know? Grievance Studies in the UNC System

As academia becomes increasingly political and some professors call for an activist academy, some critics have questioned the impact of “cultural studies” and critical theory on the quality of research in the humanities.

Academics Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay, and Peter Boghossian have led the reaction against scholarship-as-activism with their famous “grievance studies” hoax.

The three academics submitted ridiculous papers—such as a feminist version of Mein Kampf—to respected peer-reviewed journals associated with identity and cultural studies to showcase the low standards within these fields.

By grievance studies, Pluckrose et al. mean “gender studies, masculinities studies, queer studies, sexuality studies, psychoanalysis, critical race theory, critical whiteness theory, fat studies, sociology, and educational philosophy.”

To Pluckrose et al., grievance studies struggle because “scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview.”

The hoaxers view such an approach to scholarship as a rejection of science and the liberal tradition of scholarship in favor of a relativistic understanding of truth rooted in an individual’s collective identity.

At schools in the University of North Carolina system, grievance studies are alive and well. Students can find a major in grievance at every UNC school:

David Waugh was a Martin Center intern. He studies economics at Hampden-Sydney College.