Subverting Institutional Prejudice in the Ivory Tower Abstract Due 9/15/2015
Negotiating identity has become more complex in this era of globalization than ever before. As cultural norms dictate what is considered acceptable, worthy, and ideal in all areas of life, academics considered "other" have historically had to fight their way in to the university, first as students and then as faculty to gain tenure and promotion. Specifically, being of color warrants a difficult environment as racial profiling extends across campus. The university's security guards constantly require us to show our identification badges. And worse, receiving the same credit for scholarship is a battle that never ends from graduate school to full professor, and whether male or female being coded as "other" by one's students and/or colleagues increases one's exposure to the ubiquitous dangers of the dominant culture's privilege.
Once access to the university is gained the battle for visibility and credibility continues. For example, academics of color have historically received less credit for the knowledge they produce than their whiter counterparts. For an outside reader with no background knowledge about "token hires" or the pejorative treatment so common towards men and especially, women of color, in the academy, it may not be evident that all too often the academic community refuses to value their scholarly contributions. Rather, their work is regarded as if it were inferior by their fellow colleagues who are not labeled as "token hires" by the institution known as the university. There are even times when academics of color choose to leave a post because they have been told too often that "they would feel more comfortable elsewhere."
This call for papers requests personal essays that disclose experiences of dealing with prejudice (of any kind) as a professor or as a graduate student. Please write about what happened and mediate your experience by analyzing it as well. Feel free to choose a format that feels the most natural to your expression of such experiences. For example, if within your essay, you would like to include a poem or a hybrid genre that is welcome.
Latin@s, African Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans, transnationals, LGBTs, disabled or anyone labeled as "other" must articulate his/her own subjectivity, to shift from being an object to a self-defined subject, which in the words of Gloria Anzaldúa: "means being concerned about the ways knowledges are invented. It means continually challenging institutionalized discourses. It means being suspicious of the dominant culture's interpretation of 'our' experiences, of the way they 'read' us" (Haciendo xxv). My hope is that the members of this panel will support Cherríe Moraga's "theory in the flesh," which underscores the import of everyday life. Through self-representation and the role of writing as agency, this panel will demonstrate how academics of color fight back by representing their identities while simultaneously subverting the dominant culture's power to label them as inferior citizens.
Furthermore, this panel will underscore how globalization permits us to reconsider "knowledge" and to open the academy towards incorporating a much broader definition of the term than the existing one based on hierarchical exclusivity. While the university exists as a space of knowledge, historically such knowledge has been constructed and legitimated by few individuals into narrow silo-like disciplines that do not reflect our global diversity. Knowledge, like power, has functioned to maintain the status quo; however, as academics of the current era we must work to remove this imperialist notion. We must counter the powerful institutions that label us ethnically or culturally "other" and hasten towards redefining not only ourselves, but our universities, our nation and our world.