How Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right: Still Missing the Point, Reinscribing Stereotypes about Eastern Europe

A short response to Dr. Monika Nalepa’s August 2 rebuttal to our letter: “Here’s the academic evidence on cheating in post-communist countries”


  1. We, the authors (Irina Ceric, Ana Grujic, Jasmina Tumbas, and Bojana Videkanic) of the Open Letter to Dr. Nalepa’s text, plus some 140 individuals (scholars, teachers, artists, curators and others) who signed our letter in support, NEVER “asked for the underlying scientific evidence.” These words do not appear in our text, but even more importantly, this was not our framework. The fact that Dr. Nalepa made a choice to focus on providing the evidence that East Europeans are more prone to cheating only exacerbates our critique of her approach. What else needs to be said to make Dr. Nalepa understand how deeply troublesome her methodology is? To insist on an argument that is steeped in damaging oversimplifications about a diverse and precarious region, such as Eastern Europe? Why should the question of proving that East Europeans are more prone to cheating even be a subject of scholarly pursuit?
  1. Dr. Nalepa’s rebuttal did not address any of our concerns or critiques, and still misses the point entirely.
  1. The Washington Post decided to give Dr. Nalepa more space to share her opinion and research, while ignoring the authors of the letter and its 140+ signatories. This sends a pretty strong message, especially if one considers the last two paragraphs in Dr. Nalepa’s rebuttal, in which she establishes her argument, ONCE AGAIN, that the region of Eastern Europe is fundamentally “behind” or backward: “cultural change may be so gradual as to require years or even generations.”
  1. So our original question remains: “What would compel the Washington Post to publish a text which traces the origins of Melania Trump’s egregious plagiarism to former socialist regimes? A text that makes an argument by calling on tired sweeping generalizations about a whole region of diverse countries, and insinuates that millions of people in Eastern Europe are backward, ignorant, and prone to cheating?

We would welcome a rebuttal that actually addressed our concerns and critiques.

 

Sincerely,

Irina Ceric, LL.M. Faculty Member, Department of Criminology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey BC Canada

Ana Grujic, PhD candidate, SUNY Buffalo NY

Dr. Jasmina Tumbas, Assistant Professor, SUNY Buffalo NY

Dr. Bojana Videkanic, PhD Assistant Professor, University of Waterloo, Waterloo ON Canada

 

Cover photo credit: YouTube PBS NewsHour

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