Racial Economies of Academia: Africana Studies as Arbiter
Recent scholarship that suggests the continuity of assaults on the Black body is often articulated from academic spaces. This should neither surprise nor comfort us. Whereas the academy has been an intellectual space which has been complicit in the physical and intellectual justifications of nonwhite inferiority, it has also emerged as the space where it is now en vogue to question the normative valuations of whiteness. But, has anything changed? Are there any contradictions in such an ordering of knowledge? This paper examines how the original understandings of Blackness have been filtered into the ways of approaching and understanding African-descended people in the contemporary, neoliberal academy. Whether through the constructions of ethnic studies, the opening of the social sciences and humanities, or the development of liberal approaches to race within university administrative practices, it questions whether or not the academy has abdicated its role as a third pillar of racial capitalism.