Ian C. Jarvie’s original research was on cargo cults—more specifically regarding the anthropologists who study cargo cults as themselves constituting a cargo cult. I reflect on the broader epistemological significance of this work, extending it to what I call ‘academic expressivism’, whereby contemporary identity politics is analysed as a cargo cult that relies on a superstitious attachment to sociological categories such as race, class, and gender. Special attention is given to the academic expressivist redeployment of Robert Nozick’s entitlement theory of justice as a vehicle for promoting identity politics.
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