Woke Vipers in the Academy, or: The Vile Mary Rambaran-Olm Strikes Again
The racial agitator and sometime scholar of medieval English, famous for trying to cancel the term "Anglo-Saxon" for being racist, turns on a former woke collaborator
Mary Rambaran-Olm is a Provost’s Postodoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto, a scholar (sit venia verbo) of Old English, and a professional brown person. Fifteen years ago, she was writing boring articles with titles like “Two Remarks Concerning Folio 121 of the Exeter Book” and “Examining Aethlred II’s Legislative Legacy from AD 993–1006,” but nobody cared what she had to say about those things. After 2015, wokery opened new avenues of endeavour, and with an enormous sigh of relief, she redirected her mediocrity to the towering problem of race in the Middle Ages:
Relying heavily on cultural theorist Stuart Hall and post-colonial theorist Dipesh Chakrabarty, I explore both the rich contributions that non-white people made to the culture of early Medieval England from the fifth to the eleventh century. The project not only brings to light archives of race and England that have gone unexplored or ignored, its aim is to contribute to larger conversations about race and the global Middle Ages.
Before going any further, I have to get this off my chest:
There is nothing more daft or incoherent, than the idea of a “global Middle Ages.” The Middle Ages are those centuries which fall between classical Antiquity and the Renaissance. These are the things that they are in the middle of, and these bookends exist for Europe alone. All talk of “medieval Japan” or “medieval India” is by analogy with the European periodisation. Nor were “non-white people” at all abundant or influential in early medieval England, although peoples and political structures outside of Europe – particularly the Islamic world and Byzantium – naturally played a role in European history. Conversely, Europeans did not contribute very much to classical Indian culture, which is why it would be stupid to complain that histories of the Satavahana Empire unjustly exclude the cultural contributions of Europeans.
It feels like another age, but back in 2019, the woke medieval lit crowd were fighting a great battle against “white supremacy.” Rambaran-Olm first came to general notice in this context, when she gave a speech at some conference demanding that the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists change their name, because of the imaginary racist connotations of the term “Anglo-Saxon.” In the midst of that absurd fracas, she co-authored with Matthew Gabriele an article for Time Magazine under the title “The Middle Ages Have Been Misused by the Far Right. Here’s Why It’s So Important to Get Medieval History Right.”
Now Rambaran-Olm has decided that it’s the relentlessly woke and diversity-addled Gabriele who is the real racist, setting off a whole new controversy. The woke snake is eating its tail.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial