In 2014 Peter Walsh identified extensive self-plagiarism (as well as some actual plagiarism) in Zygmunt Bauman’s work and made his findings public. He was subject to some remarkable attacks by senior figures (including Brad Evans and Henry Giroux invoking the image of “a Stasi witch hunt” to attack the “micro-fascist” Walsh) which I found as hyperbolic as they were off-putting. Not least of all because such internationally renowned figures didn’t even bother to engage with Peter’s published paper (co-written with David Lehmann) detailing his findings.
It’s always seemed obvious to me that this was interesting work in the sociology of intellectual life, motivated by a genuine curiosity concerning the figure of the ‘academic celebrity’ and what it means for the future of social theory. Furthermore, I remain convinced this is an important conversation for us to have and it is not, as yet, being had in any meaningful way.
Therefore I recorded a podcast with Peter about these issues. Apologies for the sound quality, I hadn’t expected that a light wind could cause such problems for a discussion we recorded outside.