While we dialogue, others die: A response to ‘The possibilities and limits to dialogue’

Derek Alderman, Joshua F.J. Inwood

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We revisit Martin Luther King Jr’s famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail (2013 [1963]), using his words to frame our thinking about the promise, limits, and efficacy of dialogue. The life and death politics of everyday oppressed people should directly inform any consideration of the merits of scholars engaging in (or disengaging from) dialogue, what they ultimately say, and with whom they engage in dialogue and political action. The stakes are too high—for the academy, broader society, and especially for those groups who bear the direct burden of injustice—not to engage in scholarly dialogue and debate. It is also important for scholars to communicate in resonant ways and enhance the value of their academic dialogue to oppressed groups. The most significant threat to scholarly dialogue is not necessarily from extremists; rather, the challenge lies in creating consequential dialogue with those who remain silent and indifferent in the face of what King called ‘the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-155
Number of pages4
JournalDialogues in Human Geography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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