Society for the Anthropology of Work
Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
In this talk, I trace the process by which diversity becomes an object of expertise. Objects about which people can be experts are constructed in registers of expertise grounded in participant frames made up of authorized roles -- the participating experts, and the institutional support that sustains the experts’ value and the value of their object. These principles are shown at work in a series of workshops administered by diversity and inclusion experts hired by a college’s Dean of Faculty office, to facilitate diversity hires. In these workshops, we examine a specific construction of diversity, developed by the consulting experts with these key elements: it is based on countable types, its hiring rationale is that diverse faculty benefit the institution, and it attributes resistance to diverse hiring to implicit bias, a psychological model ascribed largely to the cognitive processes of individuals. Social factors, while acknowledged, are left outside the areas acknowledged as centrally pertinent by the consulting experts. This undercuts the capacity for faculty who focus on non-psychological issues to get much traction. Even more to the point, this construction can be technicized: the faculty (mostly chairs) required to attend the workshops are instructed in the use of the model and how to share it with department colleagues to whom they are supposed to convey the workshop messages and hiring instructions. Thus, this object of expertise and the ways in which it is sustained reinforce a top-down institutional authority structure.