Getting Beyond the Mythmakers: How the Focus on Diversity Reveals Modern Religions and Archaic Traditions

By Kette Thomas.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The current trend in Diversity Studies claims honor and defense of the rights and basic beliefs belonging to members, most especially, of marginalized communities and political identities. However, a complex structure that further alienates these individuals grows alongside this project of acceptance. In The Cunning of History, Richard Rubenstein describes a critical tool in the execution of the Holocaust: Bureaucracy. Systematic domination; bureaucracy was a machine capable of effective action and indifferent to all “purely personal…elements which escape calculation.” The dehumanizing and alienating effect of bureaucracies are illustrated, not in the subjects themselves, but in the way the subjects are used to extract something we need consistently and effectively. The recognizable characteristic of bureaucracies is submission to hierarchical structures, inflexible and deaf to personal feelings or responses. Max Weber “was convinced that political domination would rest with whoever controlled the bureaucratic an instrument for the organization of human action.” Bureaucracies effectively narrow the world around us by giving us inflexible options, thereby controlling every aspect of production within a given field. This paper presents bureaucracy as the frame used to advance much of the scholarship on diversity. Using a combination of fresh myths produced to identify marginalized populations and their correlative histories of oppression and human degradation, academic discourse on diversity often isolates their subjects while, simultaneously, establishing strict codes of conduct, treatment and approach. Scholars treat the political collectives developed through diversity studies in clinical terms, often neglecting the more complex structures responsible for creating social groups. Rather than the willful gathering of individuals with shared beliefs, diversity studies aims to define populations of political collectives through analyses of experience relative to politics, economics and historical events. Thus, by utilizing incontrovertible historical facts to forge the collective, it becomes possible to lock in both the investigative subjects and those engaged in their treatment. Ironically, in the interest of protecting those populations, a development of strict adherence to processes and authority analogous to bureaucratic characteristics emerges. In disciplined study, we are using something I call “the bureaucratization of discourse;” a system that instructs us on approach, treatment, and newly established and protected hierarchies that determine definition, movement, and direction. They not only filter agency out of the collective, but also process individuals through an industrial machine that seeks to produce a common object. Diversity, then, becomes a paradox.

Keywords: Mythology, Bureaucracy, Identity Politics, Literature, Identity Discourse

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp.107-118. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 633.095KB).

Dr. Kette Thomas

Assistant Professor, Humanities, Michigan Tech University, Houghton, MI, USA

Kette Thomas is a tenure-track Assistant Professor of literature at Michigan Technological University. Her work centers on questions regarding identity, agency, and language with special emphasis on religion, myth, folklore, autobiography, film, creative essays and the novel. She recently published an article on the Zombie myth and the biblical figure of Lazarus and is currently working on a book project concerning RestAvecs, an informal institution of child labor in Haiti.


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