Talk:Michael Watts

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Untitled[edit]

Tried to reformat this, however, I am not sure which format is being used to cite the publications at the bottom of the article, as well, I am not quite sure which way these kind of publications are cited in this field/in Wikipedia. I am inclined to use MLA for this kinda stuff, but I'd like to hear someone else's opinion. The current form seems kinda strange. -Yizzerin 23:54, May 17, 2004 (UTC)

'Famous' Geography Professors, or Vanity Publishing?[edit]

A simple question: what is the criterion governing the inclusion of this individual in Wikipedia, and what is the relation of the writer (or writers) to the subject of this entry? Isn't there a danger that this kind of entry becomes little more than a form of vanity publishing.... 18 June 2006

A good question: who wrote this entry, and why? 17 July 2006

This article could be written better so it doesn't appear to be a vanity post. However, I believe Michael Watts deserves inclusion as an entry. He is a major figure within Geography and the broader field of political ecology. His work Silent Violence is often considered one of the first works of this sort. He is also one of the few geographers whose work is widely read and recognized across other disciplines. I have no personal relationship with Dr. Watts, nor have I ever even met him, although I have read a lot of his work...Aug. 4, 2006

Believing that someone 'deserves' an entry is not actually an explanation of why such a person has one. I think that my friend Fred, who is kind to his dogs and children, 'deserves' an entry, but no one (rightly) would accept this as a valid reason. There is currently far too much puffery where obscure academics are concerned, and it is important to know who wrote it, and why. 4 August 2006

Since I am just about to write a biography of him for an encyclopaedia, I would say his fame deserves mention in Wikipedia. If anything, for geographical contributions, and for being extraordinarily knowledeable (I have met him). If in doubt see David Harvey entry for why some geographers transcend academia and reach into public debate. 24 Aug 06

There speaks a true client, tasked with spreading the 'fame' of his/her master. Why don't you get up off your knees ('I have met him' - and no doubt he turned water into wine, and blessed you in between miracles) and look at the academic world (and perhaps the world itself) a bit more critically. BN, 13 Sept 2006

Is the writer of the last but one observation the same person who wrote the following words in a review of a book: ‘the theoretical mastery of its editors…[the book] is important and valuable, and the editors and contributors are to be congratulated on a fine volume. It will carve out a vital place for geographers involved in these debates and be remembered for years as a benchmark text that offers significant breakthroughs for political ecology.’ Guess who is one of the editors of that book… 17 September 2006

Sure I wrote that review - so what? no different to what most reviewers offered of a ten-year old book. it was right, too, and the book went into 2nd edn. and has sold loads. i've neither been taught by, nor had much personal interaction with, anybody i've edited.

Why are you, a geographer, writing so many fawning pieces (book reviews, wikipedia entries) about senior people in the discipline? If you don't want to be regarded as a client, then don't act like one. Whether or not you have been taught by (or know) the people you write so uncritically about is beside the point. To be a client of someone it is not necessary to have been taught by him/her. 8/10/06

As a postscript to these comments, those interested should compare the highly uncritical entry written by the above geographer about (predictably) another geographer -'Stuart E. Corbridge' - in the book Key Thinkers on Space and Place, with two highly critical reviews by non-geographers of a book about India co-authored by the same Stuart E. Corbridge. One appeared in the Journal of Development Studies, vol. 38, no. 1 (October, 2001), and the other in the Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 29, no. 1 (October, 2001).

On closer inspection, 75% of the items listed under 'books by Watts' are in fact edited texts, or volumes to which others have contributed substantially. His list of articles is not that impressive either, most being very short pieces. All in all, a fairly average cv. Why, then, this entry? 18/10/06

What's Watt? Isn't one of the editors of Key Thinkers on (Outer) Space and (Peyton) Place a geographer called Hubbard - L. 'Ron' Hubbard? Jacques the Quipper, 27th October 2006

Shhh! You'll scare away the geographer who composed this entry, going about the worthwhile task of spreading the fame of his senior colleagues. Naughty, very naughty - not nice at all to interrupt such good work. 2/11/06

Another fairly silly debate. Who is "notable" within a discipline is generally best-determined by people in that discipline, so it should be no surprise to see geographers writing the entries. As it happens, Watts is well-known outside geography, too (well-enough that I know who he is, anyway, and find it quite useful to have his basic bio up on Wikipedia). And really, if you're so concerned that Wikipedia has too many articles on it (is it going to fill up? Are the servers groaning under the weight of these 1K text files?), might not the endless streams of articles on minor comic book characters, singles by obscure singers, and other pop culture effluvia not be a better place to start? That would be silly of course--and so is this odd campaign against academics. 131.111.8.98 16:39, 27 May 2007 (UTC)

You just don't get it, do you? This is neither a 'campaign against academics' nor a 'silly debate'. What it concerns - and has done so all along - is the attempt to elevate some academics to clebrity status, when in fact their work is either unoriginal or not very important. The claim that those in the discipline are in the best position to judge who is 'notable' not only misses this point, but also overlooks the extent to which what are actually puffs emanate from subordinates and/or clients. Such judgements about 'eminent intellectuals' are thus not only biased (a form of vanity publishing) but also inaccurate (subordinates have little knowledge about the dbates involved, and where these actually originated). 4 June 2007

'Discoveries' by Geographers[edit]

Oh dear, more problems with Key Thinkers on Place and Space. The entry on Escobar attributes to other Geographers writing in 1999 and 2000 (Kiely, Bebbington) the critique of post-development. This is wrong. Like other Geographers, they were writing in support of post-development when the critique of this approach was formulated in the early and mid-1990s by those who were not Geographers. 16/11/06

That, surely, is the point. Spreading the fame of senior colleagues entails, among other things, attributing to their generalship victories that were in fact won by others. Isn't that the way one becomes famous? Jacques the Quipper, 23rd November 2006

Mon dieu - everything has gone quiet. Where will the phantom sycophant strike next, I wonder? Which geographer is to have his/her reputation inflated as a result? Jacques the Kipper, 6th Dec 2006

Another thing. The subjects of these entries have not noticeably come forward to distance themselves from the fawning nature of what is written about them. Moreover, the details contained in the entries themselves, plus the occasional correction made to them, does suggest the existence of a link between the writer of the entry and its subject. In short, the entries are by people who, contrary to the assertion above (‘i've neither been taught by, nor had much personal interaction with, anybody i've edited’), appear to be unusually well-informed concerning those about whom they write. BW, 12/12/2006

The divinely named phantom sycophant – el zalamero – appears to have been working overtime recently, to the extent that there does not seem to be a professor of geography anywhere whose name and ‘achievements’ (‘a five-page article published in Geography Now ten years ago’) are now not posted up on wikipedia in lights. MJ, 22 December 2006

Surely, these achievements should extend to include the famous geographers who painted the Mona Lisa, invented the combustion engine, and split the atom? Kip le Jacqueur, 24 Dec 2006.

…not to mention the even more famous geography professors who won the 1970 world cup for Italy in Mexico City, bowled out Don Bradman for 253 at the Oval Test in 1948, and came first in the synchronized swimming event during the 1321 Olympic Games. MJ, 27 December 2006

Another gem from the pen of el zalamero, in a review of ‘Struggles over Geography’ (sic) by Michael Watts: “Michael Watts’ ability to make connections – across the local and global, between historical events, and among the theories and arguments of a daunting range of intellectuals and activists – will be well known to most readers…… he argues convincingly that coercive regimes have persisted in the twentieth century, accompanied by an upsurge of different types of violence on a world scale… Watts outlines the prospects for boosting ‘human capability’ - broadly, this means the satisfaction of human needs but with freedom of human agency, enhanced political participation and political accountability...If poverty is a result of ‘capability failure’ and a lack of entitlements, the solution is not only to respond by meeting society’s material needs, but also by developing ‘critical autonomy’ and a strong ‘sense of society’ to enhance freedoms… This is an essential book for collectors of Watts work, and another (daunting) exploration of his ecumenical excavations into cross-cutting ideas and literatures… Watts shows that morality lies with certain social movements and elements of the rural peasantry, rather than with corrupt and repressive elites, politicians and business interests. This is a clear signal to the shapers of future development policy.” This is so profound, soooooo profound, I’m left gasping for breath. How did we not know this already? Until Watts told us, nobody - but nobody - had an inkling of a solution along these lines... Kip le Jongleur, 29 Dec 2006

The Critique of Community[edit]

Is the Michael J. Watts who in 2007 is critical of the concept ‘community’ – ‘The sinister political life of community’, in G. Creed, The Romance of Community, SAR Press – the same Michael J. Watts who in 1983 (Silent Violence) was extolling the virtues of self-same pre- or non-capitalist ‘community’? Surely not. Then again, probably yes. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…. 04.01.07

Presumably, the question is what or who could have influenced Watts to change his mind so completely? Has anyone else recently challenged the view that rural ‘community’ is benign, and written a monograph criticizing its idealization? If so, Watts is bound to have acknowledged this. SW, 18th Jan 2007.

Not everyone does, although there is absolutely no suggestion that Watts has failed to do this. The usual pattern is really simple: come across a better idea than your current one, and – without identifying the source – write about it. A client will then run around (unbidden, of course) saying that it was your idea in the first place, telling the world what a famous person you are as a result. It always persuades those lacking an in-depth knowledge of the debate. Jungle Kipper, 19th January 2007.

Watts always a Marxist?[edit]

In the light of the above – Watts’ initial espousal of a populist approach (see the comments on community)– the inference that his views have always been ‘informed by an abiding commitment to Marxian political economy’ is not correct. For this reason, the following qualification has been reinserted: ‘informed – so it is said – by an abiding commitment to Marxian political economy’. SW, 23/01/07

accusation of plagiarism[edit]

I know there is a policy on biographies on wikipedia to avoid libel, so I wanted to bring up accusations of plagiarism against the Retort collective (of which Watts is a member) here first. [1] These authors accuse Retort of plagiarism in their articles and the book Afflicted Powers. This claim has been made publicly, so I'm not sure if its acceptable to include here or not. It would probably be better suited on a page about the Retort Collective, but I don't believe such a page exists.--Cwhalvor 23:40, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Most interesting... 29 September 2007 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.155.185.135 (talk) 20:53, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

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