Campus Rebellions and Plantation Politics: Power, Privilege, and the Emancipatory Struggle in Higher Education

Axé.

I did not submit to this CFP, but I will be interested in the book.

Campus Rebellions and Plantation Politics: Power, Privilege, and the Emancipatory Struggle in Higher Education
Editors: Frank Tuitt, University of Denver
Bianca C. Williams, CUNY Graduate Center
Dian Squire, Iowa State University
Saran Stewart, University of the West Indies, Mona

In recent times, a resurgence of resistance to the structural racism and whiteness upon which institutions of higher education have been built has emerged. One can simply read newspapers over the last six months to identify hundreds of articles discussing the topic. Specifically, Black students and their accomplices have generated passionate protests and multiple forms of resistance on college campuses throughout the country and around the globe. As a consequence, these traditionally white institutions have now become the epicenter of the Movement for Black Lives as students have participated in numerous administrative building takeovers, teach-ins, and protests, drawing attention to racial discrimination and police violence on campus and in the community. Accordingly, in this edited volume, we will explore how these multiple forms of campus rebellions, and the strategies universities use to respond to these acts, reveal a modern conceptualization of “plantation politics.” We later discuss how these acts may lead to the conceptualization of emancipatory practices that can bring us closer to achieving racial equity in high education.

Craig Stevens Wilder (2013) noted that “colleges were [formed as] imperial instruments akin to armories and forts, a part of the colonial garrison with the specific responsibilities to train ministers and missionaries, convert indigenous peoples and soften cultural resistance, and extend European rule over foreign nations” (p. 33). These “imperial instruments” (Wilder, 2013) were created to profit off the diversity and bodies of Black slaves and Indigenous peoples, built to maintain a religious orthodoxy, and uplift (through education) an elite white body. In many ways, slave plantations served similar purposes. Durant (1999) argued that slave plantations were characterized by: (a) import of slaves and control by whites; (b) forced exploitation of labor resulting in acquired wealth, power, profit, and prestige; (c) slaves as chattel property; (d) social caste system with little upward mobility; (e) racially stratified division of labor with whites at the top and Blacks at the bottom; (f) strict system of governance employing control mechanisms; (g) “slave and non-slave subsystems, represented by emerging social institutions such as family, economy, education politics, and religion” (p. 5); and (g) a structure that required continual adaptation to internal and external forces. The parallels are incriminatory and it is clear that slave plantation politics can serve as an apt framework to view the contemporary university.

If we look at campus environments through the lens of Durant’s slave plantation, this helps us better understand (1) the ways enslaved Africans and slave plantations were fundamental to the creation of some university campuses; (2) how the exploitation of Black peoples’ physical and emotional labor continue to be central to the economic workings of universities; and (3) how the vestiges of plantation culture and life influence modern university culture, climate, and structures of power. Juxtaposing this lens within a higher education frame, allows us to examine the interactions between institutional leaders and campus protesters (students, faculty, and/or staff) in order to understand the power differentials embedded in these interactions. We can explore how the technologies used to create plantation life are similar to those technologies used to sustain higher education institutions, and the ways these work to produce racial inequities and hostile racial environments that give rise to campus rebellions. Finally, we can better understand how employing control mechanisms that seek to repress campus rebellions, may reinforce white supremacy, limit freedoms, and continue to oppress Black lives.

This edited collection is designed to provide scholars and practitioners in higher education insights into the ways that modern day universities are shaped by colonial vestiges of slave plantations in order to stoke the collective imagination toward racial justice. Campus Rebellions and Plantation Politics is both conceptual and practical in that we ask authors (and by extension readers) to draw parallels between slave plantations and modern universities, and provide implications for deconstruction of oppressive structures in order to reimagine emancipatory potential. That is, how does an analysis of Plantation Politics help one better engage in emancipatory action on college campuses? For this edited volume, we are seeking a range of chapters that appeal to the following sections: 1) Power and Privilege (e.g, emotional and physical labor; athletic departments as capitalist profiteers or other forms of plantation economy; exploitation); 2) Resistance (e.g., student protests, rebellion, coalition-building); 3) Futures and Imaginings (e.g., counternarratives; or non- plantation formations of education; fictional imaginings of university futures); and 4) Other contemporary examples of plantation politics (e.g., role of white allies, international slavery and higher education, the place of historically Black colleges and universities).

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