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Plantation Politics and Neoliberal Racism in Higher Education: A Framework for Reconstructing Anti-Racist Institutions

by Dian D. Squire, Bianca C. Williams & Frank Tuitt - 2018

Overcoming the deeply embedded anti-Black racism and colonial heritage of North America is an ongoing project. Scholars have yet to explicate fully the ways that racism and colonialism are foundational to the construction of institutions of higher education. Plantation politics provides the opportunity to reveal parallel organizational and cultural norms between contemporary higher education institutions and slave plantations. To better explore the applicability of this theory, the authors share an example of the parallel between slave plantations and contemporary universities called “The Oxymoronic Social Existence of Whites (or Neoliberalism as the New Slave Code)” and its implications for campus practice toward racial liberation.The authors argue that the institutional logics of colonialism and imperialism—which were essential to the establishment of this country and led to the creation of plantations and the enslavement of Black bodies—exists within higher education institutions today.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 120 Number 14, 2018, p. 1-20
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22379, Date Accessed: 9/19/2021 1:25:36 PM

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About the Author
  • Dian Squire
    Iowa State University
    E-mail Author
    DIAN SQUIRE is a visiting assistant professor in the student affairs program at Iowa State University. Prior to starting at Iowa State University, Dian was a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Denver's Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of (in)Equality (IRISE). Dian's research focuses on issues of diversity, equity, and justice in higher education. He particularly focuses on access to graduate education and the experiences of diverse graduate students. He utilizes organizational perspectives to help explain individual behavior and experience in order to transform organizational structures to support equity and justice. He also writes on student activism, racial justice, campus institutional change, and critical praxis in student affairs.
  • Bianca Williams
    CUNY–The Graduate Center
    E-mail Author
    BIANCA C. WILLIAMS is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. As a feminist cultural anthropologist, Williams’ research interests include Black women and happiness; race, gender, and emotional labor in higher education; feminist pedagogies; and Black feminist leadership, emotional wellness, and activist organizing. In her forthcoming book, The Pursuit of Happiness: Black Women, Diasporic Dreams, and the Politics of Emotional Transnationalism, Williams examines how African American women use international travel and the Internet as tools for pursuing happiness and leisure, creating intimate relationships and friendships, and critiquing American racism and sexism (Duke University Press, 2018). The investigative thread that binds Williams’ research, teaching, and service is the question “How do Black women develop strategies for enduring and resisting the effects of racism and sexism, while attempting to maintain emotional wellness?”
  • Frank Tuitt
    University of Denver
    E-mail Author
    FRANK TUITT is the Senior Advisor to the Chancellor, Provost on Inclusive Excellence, and a Professor of Higher Education at the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. Dr. Tuitt’s research explores topics related to access and equity in higher education, teaching and learning in racially diverse college classrooms, and diversity and organizational transformation. His scholarship critically examines issues of race, Inclusive Excellence and diversity in and outside the classroom from the purview of faculty and students. In 2014 Dr. Tuitt was awarded the Mildred García Exemplary Scholarship Award.
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