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African American Perspectives on Political Science

African American Perspectives on Political Science

Edited by Wilbur C. Rich
With a Foreword by Charles V. Hamilton
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Temple University Press
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  • Book Info
    African American Perspectives on Political Science
    Book Description:

    Race matters in both national and international politics. Starting from this perspective,African American Perspectives on Political Sciencepresents original essays from leading African American political scientists. Collectively, they evaluate the discipline, its subfields, the quality of race-related research, and omissions in the literature. They argue that because Americans do not fully understand the many-faceted issues of race in politics in their own country, they find it difficult to comprehend ethnic and racial disputes in other countries as well. In addition, partly because there are so few African Americans in the field, political science faces a danger of unconscious insularity in methodology and outlook. Contributors argue that the discipline needs multiple perspectives to prevent it from developing blind spots. Taken as a whole, these essays argue with great urgency that African American political scientists have a unique opportunity and a special responsibility to rethink the canon, the norms, and the directions of the discipline.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-110-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Charles V. Hamilton

    FIFTY YEARS AGO, this book likely would not have been published or even conceived of as necessary to the study of the discipline of American political science. This is understandable, but regrettable. I suggest that it is regrettable because this volume is no more valuable today than it would have been in the immediate post-World War II years. There were, indeed, several African American political scientists at that time with perspectives relevant to the study of race and American governance. They were trained by well-respected scholars at highly regarded universities. But most of those professionally established scholars had not the...

    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. 1-4)
    Wilbur C. Rich

    THIS COLLECTION OF ESSAYS is about political science as seen through the eyes of African American political scientists—their assessment of the subfields, their views about the quality of race-related research and their regrets about the omissions in the literature. The central theme is that race matters in politics, not only nationally but internationally. Because we do not understand race in our own politics, it makes it difficult to comprehend ethnic and racial disputes in other countries. Accordingly, the discipline needs multiple perspectives to keep expanding its blind spaces and to prevent it fom becoming too comfortable with itself. Although...

  6. PART ONE Race and Political Scientists

    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 5-6)

      THE DISCOURSE ABOUT RACE and politics continues. Race is so important because it defines so much of our political culture. Although polls show that white Americans are less prejudiced than they were in the 1940s, the races are becoming more socially isolated. Douglas S. Massey and Nancy Denton’sAmerican Apartheidreported this when they discovered housing segregation after the 1990 U.S. Census. The 2000 Census did not reveal any lessening of this isolation. Yet as I suggested inThe Politics of Minority Coalitions, watching individual blacks queue-jump their collective group does not mean that the overall situation for them has...

    • CHAPTER ONE Still at the Margins: The Persistence of Neglect of African American Issues in Political Science, 1986–2003
      (pp. 7-23)
      Ernest J. Wilson III and Lorrie A. Frasure

      ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES are grids that provide scholars a way to divide up the world and to impose order and consistency on unruly reality. Each discipline presents a slightly different grid such that the “same” topic—for example, family, power, or equality—will be defined and situated differently relative to other topics and relative to its centrality or distance from core disciplinary concerns. For political scientistpower, choice, and the stateare given pride of place at the center of the field (Katznelson and Milner, 2002), whereas the study of families is more peripheral. The structure and behavior of families are...

    • CHAPTER TWO The Race Variable and the American Political Science Association’s State of the Discipline Reports and Books, 1907–2002
      (pp. 24-37)
      Hanes Walton Jr. and Robert C. Smith

      MATTHEW HOLDEN JR. has written that the study of race has been viewed as an “academic graveyard” for any young scholar who sought “academic respectability” because white political scientists did not perceive it as raising “critical intellectual problems.”¹ This essay addresses a simple research question: How has the race variable been explored and analyzed in the official reports and books of the American Political Science Association’sState of the Discipline studies? These official reports and books, which cover the period from 1907 to 2002, can tell us how the Association both defined the “state of the discipline” and how it...

    • CHAPTER THREE African American Political Scientists in Academic Wonderland
      (pp. 38-52)
      Wilbur C. Rich

      THIS ESSAY EXAMINES African American political scientists’ encounters with the academic workplace environment. The “Wonderland” analogy comes from Lewis Carroll’sAlice in Wonderlandand its sequelThrough the Looking Glass. As a newcomer to this odd world, one can understand why some African Americans might think that they have fallen down a rabbit hole and entered a bewildering universe where nothing is quite as it seems. In this chapter the emergence of African Americans in the discipline, tenure dynamics, and networking opportunities are examined. I will also discuss academic superstars and the lure of prestigious universities.

      As a discipline, political...

  7. PART TWO Globalization and Transnational Politics

    • CHAPTER FOUR Black Politics in Latin America: An Analysis of National and Transnational Politics
      (pp. 55-75)
      Ollie A. Johnson III

      IN THE LAST 25 YEARS, scholars have made significant contributions to our understanding of race and ethnicity and, more specifically, of Black populations in Latin America. Most of these books and articles have come from historians (Andrews 2004; Appelbaum, Macpherson, and Rosemblatt 2003; Davis 1995a), anthropologists (Wade 1993, 1997; Whitten and Torres 1998; Yelvington 2001), and sociologists (Hasenbalg 1986; Twine 1998; Winant 2001). As a result, we have a better sense of the central roles that Africans and their descendants have played in shaping Latin America. Contemporary Latin American religion, cuisine, music, style, language, and social relations all bear the...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Globalization and the Study of Development
      (pp. 76-104)
      Vernon D. Johnson

      THIS ESSAY DISCUSSES THE evolution of development studies in the contemporary period, which has come to be called the era of globalization. The study of development, with economics as the lead discipline, became a preoccupation of the social sciences after World War II. The postwar international setting was structured by three forces: the rise of the United States and the Soviet Union as global superpowers, the collapse of the European colonial empires as a consequence of metropolitan enervation resulting from the war effort, and the emergence of a host of sovereign postcolonial countries. The United States and the Soviet Union...

  8. PART THREE Civic Engagement and Voting

    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 105-106)

      AS THIS VOLUME WAS BEING EDITED, the nation was anticipating the 2008 presidential elections. Clearly the vote is the most critical political resource available to African Americans. Because it has become so predictable, does it lose some of its significance? In recent national elections, blacks have voted as a bloc. Most black voters did not vote for President George W. Bush even though he made a relatively weak appeal to black voters at the annual Urban League Conference. He reminded blacks that the Democratic Party takes their vote for granted and that they should leverage their vote to exact benefits...

    • CHAPTER SIX Political Science and the Study of African American Public Opinion
      (pp. 107-129)
      Melissa V. Harris-Lacewell

      HANES WALTON’S FOUNDATIONAL TEXT,Black Politics, asserts that “black politics in America is continually changing” (1972, 15). His assertion confirms observations that black political leadership has grown, diversified, and taken on new shadings in the past half-century. This assertion of a diverse black politics is less transparent in the study of black public opinion. Marked by a striking homogeneity of electoral preferences dominated by Democratic partisan affiliation, African American political thought is often wrongly assumed to be unidirectional and to lack the internal complexity of white American political attitudes. Despite the assumption that there is little surprising to uncover in...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN A Black Gender Gap? Continuity and Change in Attitudes toward Black Feminism
      (pp. 130-150)
      Evelyn M. Simien

      USING DATA FROM the 1993-1994 National Black Politics Study and the 2004-2005 National Black Feminist Study, I observe a gender gap in attitudes toward black feminism among African Americans. The male-female difference is attributable to an attitudinal shift on the part of men that has persisted and widened over time. The attitudes of African American men are, on the whole, more liberal and progressive than the attitudes of African American women. In this chapter, I consider whether black feminist consciousness affects political behavior in general and various modes of political behavior in particular. I find that black feminists have been...

    • CHAPTER 8 Going It Alone: Black Women Activists and Black Organizational Quiescence
      (pp. 151-168)
      Andrea Y. Simpson

      THE DOMINANT CULTURE perceives African American women as aggressive in both public and private life (Bell 2004; Childs 2005; Givens and Monahan 2005). On the one hand, the characterization of Black women as aggressive suggests high levels of self-confidence and agency. On the other hand, it may suggest social pathology or learned impertinence. This perception of high levels of confidence and agency is in contrast with other realities of Black women’s lives—overrepresentation in the ranks of single parenthood, high levels of underemployment, and political invisibility. This reality, expressed in essays, commentaries, literature, popular novels, magazines, and talk shows, raises...

    • CHAPTER NINE Political Scientists and the Activist-Technocrat Dichotomy: The Case of John Aubrey Davis
      (pp. 169-192)
      Martin Kilson

      BY THE 1930s a small cadre of African American professionals had emerged with full-fledged graduate school training in the social science professions, and in this chapter I want to discuss the fascinating career of one such African American who gained graduate school training in the field of political science.

      Just a handful of African Americans had attained professional degrees at the doctoral level in political science by the end of the 1940s; prominent among them were Ralph Bunche (PhD, Harvard University), Robert Martin (PhD, University of Chicago), Merze Tate (PhD, Radcliffe College), and Robert Brisbane (PhD, Harvard University).

      So when...

  9. PART FOUR Political Institutions

    • [PART FOUR Introduction]
      (pp. 193-194)

      AMERICANS HAVE A RIGHT to be proud of their venerated political institutions. These institutions have evolved considerably since the first edition (1910) of Charles A. Beard’sAmerican Government and Politicstextbook. These institutions have stood the test of time and have adapted under pressure. The interaction of these institutions with the race question is particularly fascinating. On the road to achieve racial equality, blacks have engaged all three branches of government. In the fifties and sixties, the U.S. Supreme Courts played a critical role in the desegregation of our society. Blacks have considered the Supreme Court their ally in the fight...

    • CHAPTER TEN Dimensions of Representation and the Congressional Black Caucus
      (pp. 195-211)
      Kenny J. Whitby

      THE CURRENT DEBATE over African American representation in the political science profession runs parallel to the debate over the value of racial diversity in legislative institutions. Both debates center around an important question: What are the appropriate mechanisms to ensure that racial minorities will have an adequate voice in the decision-making process? In both cases, decision makers have struggled to find the appropriate remedy for the underrepresentation of racial minorities in governing bodies.

      Nowhere is the debate over African American representation more evident than in the controversy surrounding the significance of racial diversity in Congress. The current maelstrom over racial...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Toward a Critical Race Theory of Political Science: A New Synthesis for Understanding Race, Law, and Politics
      (pp. 212-231)
      Barbara Luck Graham

      THE POST-CIVIL RIGHTS ERA, described as a period of retrenchment that began in the 1980s, scholars of race, law and politics began to reassess the role of race and ethnicity in their understanding of domestic and international subordination, marginalization, and exclusion of people of color. According to Walton and Smith (2000, xvii), “Race is the most important cleavage in American life, with enormous impact on the nation’s society, culture and politics.” Despite the saliency of race and ethnicity in American law and politics, however, political scientists and law professors continue to articulate their opposition to the lack of serious scholarly...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Presidential Leadership and the Politics of Race: Stereotypes, Symbols, and Scholarship
      (pp. 232-250)
      Wilbur C. Rich

      THE GRAND OR META-NARRATIVE of America is its unwavering commitment to freedom and equality.¹ The presidency is the sentinel of these democratic ideals. To be faithful to these ideals, presidents must take on the issue of race straightforwardly. Yet race relations continue to play only an ancillary role in the discourse about the nature of the American presidency. Trying to explain presidential leadership without using race relations as a case study reveals a myopia that is neither fair to presidents nor faithful to the metanarrative. Addressing black civil rights demands cannot be seen as a distraction from the important work...

  10. PART FIVE The Subfields

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Comparative Politics and Asia: Contesting Hegemonic Inter– and Intra–Disciplinary Boundaries
      (pp. 253-284)
      Germaine A. Hoston

      KARL MANNHEIM’S OBSERVATION concerning the constraints on individual views of politics is as valid today as it was nearly three-quarters of a century ago. Forced into exile as Weimar’s fragile democracy succumbed to the totalizing ideology of National Socialism, Mannheim was acutely aware of the threat to liberal politics posed by the refusal to accept the legitimacy of a plurality of visions. Preclusion of alternative views of reality and competing images of its immanent potentiality defined the totalizing politics of fascism. It struck the death knell for democracy if such pluralism were not reflected in the pursuit of knowledge as...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Race and the Problem of Equity in the Administrative State: Implications for Political Science Theory and Methods
      (pp. 285-307)
      Lenneal J. Henderson Jr.

      THE INCREASING COMPLEXITY and power of administrative agencies is one of the hidden crises of American politics. Policy is implemented in an array of bureaucracies at the national and subnational level. In the study of political science and public administration, the role of bureaucracy is to implement public policies. This traditional dichotomy between politics and administration, however, understates the power of bureaucracies. Policies made with good intentions are often transformed, truncated, and revised within and over the life cycle of government bureaucracies.

      There is no better example of this dynamic than race and administration. African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Race and the City: The View from Two Political Science Journals
      (pp. 308-324)
      Marion Orr and Valerie C. Johnson

      THIS ESSAY IS an exploratory examination of the ways in which political scientists have covered urban politics. What is the place of the study of urban life among American political scientists? When political science has taken up the issue of urban affairs, what has been its focus? And finally, how have political scientists who study American urban politics handled race and racial issues?

      To explore these questions, we systematically examined the articles on urban politics in the two oldest political science journals:the Political Science Quarterlyand theAmerican Political Science Review. Founded in 1886, PSQ is the older of...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Navigating the Muddy Waters of the Mainstream: Tracing the Mystification of Racism in International Relations
      (pp. 325-363)
      Errol A. Henderson

      THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN male and female PhDs in political science, the diplomat and Nobel laureate Ralph Bunche, and the disarmament specialist Merze Tate, both chose to focus on international relations (IR, or world politics) as their area of expertise. Interestingly, many newly minted black PhDs today opt for American politics rather than IR as their chief area of specialization. This focus is in obvious ways understandable, considering the salience of domestic politics in general to citizens of the United States—including academics. The focus also reflects the more prominent role of blacks in contemporary electoral politics than in Bunche...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN A Critical Review of American Political Institutions: Reading Race into the Constitutional “Silence” on Race
      (pp. 364-397)
      Katherine Tate, Kevin L. Lyles and Lucius J. Barker

      CLEARLY THE CONSTITUTION was not “silent” about race, nor could that “silence” be seen in the political social system that evolved from it. The compromises ratified in the original Constitution of the United States both recognized and protected slavery. Slavery and racial injustice were thus accommodated and written into the Constitution. And these compromises were inherent in the origin and development of American political institutions. Consider, for example, that through strong-state federalism and the creation of the Electoral College, slave owners felt that they had obtained reliable mechanisms that would protect their share of the power in the national government...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Political Science Confronts Afro-America: A Reconsideration
      (pp. 398-433)
      Jerry G. Watts

      AS AN ACADEMIC DISCIPLINE, American political science has historically relegated to the margins issues pertaining to Afro-Americans, race, and anti-black white racism.¹ Ralph Bunche, the first Afro- American president of the American Political Science Association, once complained about the lack of interest in academic political science in publishing articles on the political behavior of black Americans. In 1941, Bunche stated: “In some field[s] this [publishing] is relatively easy. Anthropologists deal with the Negro as a respectable topic, and the journals of anthropology take such articles without hesitation. In respect to my own field, which concerns the status of the Negro,...

    (pp. 434-437)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 438-444)