Why Memphis Has Two Marches for Science

I was interviewed by WIRED on the disunity caused by scientists who have tried to split the March for Science from social justice activism. 

The case study in this article is the appalling treatment of organisers in Memphis, USA. Scientists split from the Memphis March to form a separate rally in the same city. Both groups have scientists but the March has centrally been led by women of colour activists with more experience in social movements, and they incorporate a focus on inclusion of minority communities. This is symbolic in their decision to march to an historically Black university. Participation of minorities in science is not mutually exclusive to the goal of enhancing evidence-based science policies.

I’ll point out what I said in my interview: scientists from underrepresented groups have always been part of, and learned from, social justice movements.

“Both groups feel that their work isn’t done—and with the perception that science is under attack in the US, they wish they could show a united front. But ‘that in itself is a false picture of science, because we are not united,’ says Zuleyka Zevallos, a sociologist at Swinburne University in Australia who has studied the online reaction to the March for Science’s shifting messaging. Saturday’s marches, rallies, and other events around the world will surely pull some science supporters together. But they’re just as likely to highlight the clash over science’s priorities. Should the science community focus on fighting back against a hostile administration? Or on improving itself from within?”

Read more on Wired.

Why Memphis Has Two Marches for Science

The March for Science is scheduled to occur globally on 22 April 2017, in over 400 cities.

Through various miscommunication, such as the assertion that the march was “not political” and that diversity was a “distraction,” the March for Science audience has been primed to reject discussion of inclusion. It took the better part of two months of constant lobbying and external pressure from minority scientists for the MfS organisers to implement various diversity statements, anti-harassment policies, a diversity team and other actions. 

At the same time, these are retrospectively put in place, immediately following yet another controversy within the march on gender inequality, racism, ableism (the discrimination of people with disabilities) and other problems.

Writing for DiverseScholar, I analysed 354 comments and over 3,300 public reactions to the March for Science diversity statement. My analysis shows why being proactive on diversity will improve science and the march.

Read more: Analyzing the March for Science Diversity Discourse, on DiverseScholar.

[Image: a crowd of protesters look forward, holding up signs, with the above quote “Being proactive on diversity will improve science.”]

Australia’s Unjust Refugee Policies

Trigger Warning: Rape and human rights abuse.

Whilst in London I came across this sign which reads, Begin your dream today, emigrate to Australia!  A warm invitation indeed: unless of course you are an asylum seeker – in which case our current government will revoke this welcome and abscond its responsibility to the United Nations Convention Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

The Australian government has passed several laws that allow the detention of asylum seekers in offshore jails. The Government also sought to imprison professionals who speak out against child abuse in refugee detention centres, including medical and health practitioners who are otherwise required by long-standing law to report such abuse of all other children.

The inquiry into asylum seeker children in detention centres found that they live in prison conditions, and that they disproportionately suffer from mental and other health problems. 

Refugees are dying in these detention centres and denied adequate healthcare, even while pregnant. Women who are raped are forced to remain in the same detention facilities as their attackers.

Australia has one of the world’s largest proportional migrant populations (48% of the national population is a first or second generation migrant) but one of the lowest refugee intakes. Australia had a more generous humanitarian program at other stages, but political grandstanding linking refugees to political conflict and so-called “social integration” has brought us to this low point as a nation.

Where has our compassion gone?

Source: The Other Sociologist.


Josefa Joaquina Sánchez (1765-1813)

Art by Taneisha (tumblr)

Josefa and her husband José María España were involved in La Conspiración de Gual y España, the first attempt to establish Venezuela as an independent country.  During this period, Joesfa sewed the first Venezuelan flag.  She also transcribed documents for the revolutionaries.

Josefa, José María, and the other conspirators were unsuccessful in their attempts to overthrow Spanish colonialism.  José María was killed and Josefa was imprisoned for eight years.  Josefa was released from prison in 1808 and banished to Cumaná with her nine children.  Despite Josefa’s pleading, her children were denied the right to attend university.  Josefa died before Venezuela achieved independence.   

Stop Australia’s Lifetime Ban of Refugees

PLEASE SHARE: This coming Tuesday 7 February 2017, Australia is set to introduce a LIFETIME BAN on refugees who arrive by boat. This will affect all people seeking asylum who arrived after 19 July 2013. This law is cruel and inhumane. It contravenes Australia’s international responsibility under the United Nations Refugee Convention 1951. Australia’s treatment of refugees has been condemned by the United Nations and by the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014.

My regular readers would know that Australia has been imprisoning refugees indefinitely in offshore detention centres since 2001. This new law would mean all those still in detention and other people seeking asylum by boat will never be allowed their human right to find safety in Australia.

Why is the ban for “boat refugees” only? The biggest groups of refugees come by air. People arriving by boat make up the minority of asylum seekers! They are the poorest from our region. They are also predominantly from Muslim-majority nations. This law represents racial discrimination by the state.

How you can stop this!

It’s not too late to make a difference! Australians, call, email or use social media to appeal to the cross-benchers below. For readers outside of Australia – Australians stand up for injustices internationally, as I have done for many conflicts and unfair political decisions outside of my country. Please take action, even if it’s just a social media post!

If you call or post on Facebook, see the suggested script below by RISE

If you tweet, you could use this text:

.@XXX the proposal of impose a lifetime ban on refugees goes against our humanity. Please vote NO to this proposal #blockthebill


Senator Derryn Hinch
(02) 6277 3168
1300 498 035

Facebook. Twitter: @HumanHeadline 


Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore
(02) 6277 3178
(08) 8232 0440

Facebook. Twitter: @SenatorSkye 


Senator David Leyonhjelm
(02) 6277 3054
1300 884 092





Senator Stirling Griff
(02) 6277 3713
1300 556 115





Senator Jacqui Lambie
(02) 6277 3063
(03) 6431 2233






Senator Nick Xenophon
(02) 6277 3713
1300 556 115





Suggested script for call:

“Hi my name is …(name, if comfortable disclosing).. and I am calling from …(location)… I would like to express my concern and discontent with the proposal of imposing a lifetime ban on refugees. This goes against the Refugee Convention and International Law. It also goes against our humanity and morality as we should be assisting those in need of protection. Please vote NO to this proposal or you will lose my vote” 

[Images: 1) two hands


the wrist, making the “x” or “no” sign, with text: Australia #BlockTheBill. Say no to lifetime ban of refugees. 2) Black background with text: Cross-bench senators. Their names, email and phone numbers are then listed as above.]


Images and other ways to help: RISE.  Post: The Other Sociologist.

The President of the International Sociological Association (ISA), Professor Margaret Abraham, has addressed the Executive Order by USA President Donald Trump. The Order suspends visas to people born in seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. Professor Abraham writes in the ISA newsletter

“We need to reflect, respond and recognize our responsibility as sociologists to address what is happening on the ground in these grim times and strive to address injustice… I’m confident that sociologists can play a key role in the formidable task of reviving hope and crafting a better future in an inclusive and just world.”  – Prof Margaret Abraham, President, International Sociological Association.

[Image: two open palms painted like a world atlas, with the above quote overlaid] 

Quote: ISA. Image: Sociology at Work.

Only two days after the Women’s March in Sydney, New South Wales, the state has announced a new Premier, a woman, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian, MP. This is progress given the NSW Government has only nine women out of 42 members in the Legislative Council and 27 women of 93 members in the Legislative Assembly. 

Yet within 15 minutes of the announcement a journalist asked Berejiklian why she is unmarried and childfree. 

The march to gender equality is a long one indeed. 

[Photo: Women chanting with their arms up in the air at the Women’s March]

Source: The Other Sociologist.

“Flying Angels,” by Henri Dono is part of a longstanding series by the Indonesian artist, who is interested in the changing norms of social justice. The angels symbolise vulnerability and freedom. The artist is inspired by the 1950s comic series Flash Gordon and the Indonesian tradition of wayang, shadow puppetry used to make social and political commentary. Exhibit at @nationalgalleryaus
Source: Instagram @OtherSociology.


“I’ll add my voice to those who are refusing to apologise for ISIS and all that, as it represents the same phenomena I argued against in White Nation. ‘Apologising for ISIS’, ‘distancing oneself from militant Islam’, making claims re how ‘most muslims are law abiding citizens’ are all varieties of the old white colonial game of integration. They are all pronouncements which, in fantasy, presume a white judging gaze that comes at the end of the utterance to say to you: ‘good boys and girls, you really are good’. Except the White colonialists never say it. they always say ‘good *but* repeat that again as I am not totally convinced’ or ‘you’re doing well, one more little effort and one more and one more’. those who enter this game never leave it. As I have said before: all what the colonialists demanding the proof of your integration want is your disintegration. The White assimilationist/integrationist who demands this apology and this distancing should be told in a one hundred percent genuinely Australian way to go and fuck themselves. believe me there is no other way to stop them. If they can’t understand they obviously need to try a little bit harder themselves.”

— Ghassan Hage