Did I get it all wrong?
About Marine Duc: “My own Abstract of the Greenlandic One” – a duplique
Marine Duc, Ph.D student at Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, formally at ENS Lyon has published a nice article in French1.The article is peer reviewed. In this, she is focusing at the living conditions for Greenlanders at two of the five Danish universities. I was very impressed by this article. Mainly because my own work with Greenlanders – mostly outside the universities – my impression is that into varying degrees racialization processes continues in the monocultural society. So, I published a purely non scientific reflecting essay presenting her article, meant as a recommendation to read it2
From a scientists’ point of view, there is a weakness in Duc’s article. She has done nothing to ensure that that her sample was unbiased.
She has, in an article attacked me heavily without confronting me directly. She never wrote to me, asked me. Nothing. In her article, she accuses me of totally misunderstanding almost everything.
Under my articles there are space left to comment. However, her own attack is violating even my purpose. I don’t know how many readers having read my article in comparison with her attack.
Nevertheless, the purpose rather seems to make a personal mockery than making a fair replique.
Instead of discussion and reflection, it seems generally more personal than academic. Therefore, I will present my answer here. A duplique.
It is my fault to having used the term “abstract” at all. I apology for that. The article is not an abstract, it is a postive review. Because of the accusations, I will not correct any faults I made. I have to stand for them, apology etc.
Translation, intention, framing, bias
Her first point of critique is that my translation should be at a very low level. She writes: “Mikael Hertig doesn’t speak French”.
I would like to moderate this in two ways. First of all, I have had three years of French at high school. Since, I have read several works in French; among others by Rousseau, Montesqieu, Sartre. She knows that my spoken French is at a low level, as well as my writing. Nevertheless, when reading in French I have a grammar, Larousse, and vocabularies with me. It takes some time to read in French. But I do it. But only with the intellect I still have left.
The topic here is not speaking, but reading. The problem with this is the fact that she knows all that. Well that is the opening. Then, she writes: “There is always an intention with a translation”. I stop here because this may confuse the reader:
My article does not present a translation. My article presents my reflections having read her article. As mentioned, her readers are not encouraged to read my article. So, her attack stands solely alone and the hidden agenda seems to be ascend her own academic skills on behalf of my personal skills in general. Under my article the option of commenting stands open. This is not the case under the one published here: https://www.aqago.org/viden/myownabstract.
Nevertheless, I agree that relying on translation always is a risky business. At Aarhus University, I met the famous American Professor Robert A Dahl (“Who Governs?) . We experienced that he was misinterpreting Max Weber because he was bound to rely on a bad translation. The risc of misunderstanding and misinterpreting is always at hand during translations. Secondly, the idea of precise understanding between cultures always is a chimera. You have to try to give the meaning a new sense. This is risky business. When writing that these possible misunderstandings are on my behalf she is purely right.
Both Marine Duc and I are in troubles when speaking with many Inuits / Kalaaleqs . We don’t speak, read or understand their mothers tongue. I am talking with inuits every day- in Danish. I assure you, I live in a world of misunderstandings. Most of the Inuit students have English as their third language. I have the advantage to be able to speak Danish with most of them; so, while Marine has to translate an Inuit’s English into French, my level of interpretation is narrowed into one stop translation. The typical inuit speaks and reads Danish.
I am not sure that the French peer reviewers of Marine’s splendid article have asked any questions according to this topic. In spite of this, Marine has succeeded in presenting an impressive article.
But the reality we are dealing with is fragile. Her point is that I didn’t present this fragility in an adequate manner. I will explain this later in this article. How many of the peer reviewers understand Greenlandic and Danish, and does it matter?
A biased sample – Duc’s method
Marine Duc claims my personal experience mentioned in my article: That many Greenlanders live in isolation from the Danish society where they live, including also students.
Marine attacks me saying that this is not at all the case. But this impression of hers is based on a presumably biased sample. Neither she nor I can in any scientific way claim so much. I can refer to my impression, but I have done no investigation to prove so. Neither has she. The difference between Duc and me is that she claims to be scientific, which I don’t.
Marine Duc’s method was simple. She invited members of Avalak – Association for Greenlandic students – for being interviewed. Pizza and red wine in Løvstræde, that was her method. The question now is, are the members og Avalak in Copenhagen and Aarhus an unbiased sample? My answer is: Definitely not!
While the typical Danish student live either as single or as pair without children, Greenlanders – both in Denmark and Greenland have children. They don’t take part in the students social life with Friday bars etc. They live at home with their children. So, the Avalak students are younger, singles or pairs taking part in the social student’s life into a higher degree than the others.
So, her elevating herself to the highest scientific level at the expense of my review is a hoax.
My article is not a translation.Per se, It is an essay built on my reading of her article. In her attack on me, Marine is not clarifying this. So, in the gulf between understanding and misunderstanding, it would have been a little more honest to underline that. My article is meant as a positive review for normal Greenlandic people interested in postcolonialization culture in terms of the living conditions for Greenlanders in Denmark, among others at the universities. So , presenting my article which the readers are not invited to read the road to simple mockery is open.
My duty is to expose my intentions, failures and weaknesses to bring them into context. Maybe I should have done that more explicitly. Others with higher intellectual skills will then have the opportunity to realize how stupid they consider me and how genius the consider Marine Duc. But does that make sense to anybody?
Then, we come to the question of my good or false intentions. According to my own scientific orientation, behavioralism and scientific relativism of values (Myrdal, Easton, Arnold Brecht) a single datum always is an answer to question, systematically formulated as an aspect of a theoretical interest. So, insofar I haven’t presented my intention precisely enough, my framing or explanation why I find her article so inspiring has failed – according to her feelings.
I do not intent to go into the depth of all her accusations – eg. on white male sexism. It is hardly relevant.
On the other hand, the triangle victim-victimized-rescuer is too simple, flat, two-dimensional. I agree to this.
I agree that my article is vulnerable to this sort of critique. My errand is and was to address the Danish public to the racialization in Denmark, not to address the left-intellectual establishment.
It is just like art. What shall the poet say when people misinterprete him?
Bias has come to stay, and the only thing we can do is to explain our intentions as sincerely and properly as possible. Besides, it should always be possible for any layman to read an article as Marine Duc’s. That my article is read by 8.000 readers might be a good thing in some way or another. The fragility and subjectivity of social sciences Marine and I have discussed several times. So, the real question is: Am I framing her in a way exposing her to be rigid and ‘objective’? Into some degree I have to regret my article might be read in that manner.But not the whole way through. My article is short. Thus, the risc of simplicification is always there. But the intention is and was to lead the reader to the real stuff: Her article. I still hope it will.
The central critique, Marine Duc raises against me is, that I am are simplifying instead of presenting her central points in a more varied and complicated manner. Her own conclusion is:
“In that paper I’ve shown how the representations of the place of origin of the Greenlandic Students in Denmark are integrated into racialization dynamics. Starting from the experiences (instead of pre-defining who is indigenous and who is not) allows us to highlight that the racialized difference-making at stake is entangled with other power relations, such as gender and social class. Considering how the stigmatization is working also gives us insights about how a national and chromatic order is daily performed within the student life. This point needs to be further explored, in order to understand better the entanglements of indigeneity and race, and to leads us towards a more comprehensive look over systemic racism. “
I agree to that statement “…The origin of Greenlandic Students in Denmark are integrated into racialization dynamics.” My own article precisely shares this intention. While Marine Duc will investigate this topic further, the idea of my article is to attract attention to the processes of stigmatization and racialization among Greenlanders in Denmark into the public sphere.
Nevertheless , I agree with Marine Duc that my article seems too conclusive. I agree that the picture is much more varied, maybe also. because of her skew sampling method.
Insofar as her article attracts more intention in Denmark, I will bless it. But was this mockery of my old person really necessary? Is this drama necessary? My errand is – scientifically or not – not to attract attention to my person, but to exactly the same phenomenas as those of Marine Duc. And to her splendid article. Read it.
The editor of Aqago has not in any way been trying to contacting me before the publication of Marine Duc’s article. According to normal ethical standards, also academic, it would have been appropriate to confront me for a comment before publishing. The editor in chief didn’t have the slightest idea of doing that. Maybe he is young and unexperienced in editorial ethics? But Aqago is supported by KNR. This is not academic. This is the lowest standard.
2 Mikael Hertig, https://www.aquut.com/2020/07/14/you-are-her-the-greenlander/
3: Marine Ducs replique https://www.aqago.org/viden/myownabstract