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Transforming the Ivory Tower

Transforming the Ivory Tower: Challenging Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia in the Academy

Brett C. Stockdill
Mary Yu Danico
Copyright Date: 2012
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  • Book Info
    Transforming the Ivory Tower
    Book Description:

    People outside and within colleges and universities often view these institutions as fair and reasonable, far removed from the inequalities that afflict society in general. Despite greater numbers of women, working class people, and people of color-as well as increased visibility for LGBTQ students and staff-over the past fifty years, universities remain "ivory towers" that perpetuate institutionalized forms of sexism, classism, racism, and homophobia.Transforming the Ivory Towerbuilds on the rich legacy of historical struggles to open universities to dissenting voices and oppressed groups. Each chapter is guided by a commitment to praxis-the idea that theoretical understandings of inequality must be applied to concrete strategies for change.The common misconception that racism, sexism, and homophobia no longer plague university life heightens the difficulty to dismantle the interlocking forms of oppression that undergird the ivory tower. Contributors demonstrate that women, LGBTQ people, and people of color continue to face systemic forms of bias and discrimination on campuses throughout the U.S. Curriculum and pedagogy, evaluation of scholarship, and the processes of tenure and promotion are all laden with inequities both blatant and covert. The contributors to this volume defy the pressure to assimilate by critically examining personal and collective struggles. Speaking from different social spaces and backgrounds, they analyze antiracist, feminist, and queer approaches to teaching and mentoring, research and writing, academic culture and practices, growth and development of disciplines, campus activism, university-community partnerships, and confronting privilege.Transforming the Ivory Towerwill be required reading for all students, faculty, and administrators seeking to understand bias and discrimination in higher education and to engage in social justice work on and off college campuses. It offers a proactive approach encompassing institutional and cultural changes that foster respect, inclusion, and transformation.Contributors:Michael Armato , Rick Bonus, Jose Guillermo Zapata Calderon, Mary Yu Danico, Christina Gómez , David Naguib Pellow, Brett C. Stockdill, Linda Trinh Võ.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6039-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Brett C. Stockdill and Mary Yu Danico
  4. CHAPTER ONE The Ivory Tower Paradox: Higher Education as a Site of Oppression and Resistance
    (pp. 1-30)
    Brett C. Stockdill and Mary Yu Danico

    The academy is often imagined as an idyllic place, neutral and untarnished by the ugly inequalities that mar the “outside world.” Yet the “ivory tower” is a part of the world and, like other institutions, is a site of oppression, resistance, and transformation. As educators and scholars, we have a profound opportunity and a responsibility to speak out and to take action against social injustice both outside and inside the academy. The contributors toTransforming the Ivory Towerthoughtfully critique academic inequalities and provocatively challenge us to collectively remake the academy. We ground our vision of higher education in justice,...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Transforming the Place That Rewards and Oppresses Us
    (pp. 31-52)
    Rick Bonus

    Whenever anyone asks me about what I find most troubling in my experiences as a professor of color, my usual response is the observation that I almost never get “mistaken” for a professor. That is, many people who do not know me, especially even on my campus, oftentimes assume that I am this or that. But they rarely guess that I could possibly be a professor. I mention this not so much to air a gripe about the persistence of a particular kind of racial/gender/class stereotyping that places people like myself outside of a usually imagined category of affluent, White,...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Telling Our Stories, Naming Ourselves: The Lost María in the Academy
    (pp. 53-65)
    Christina Gómez

    To name is to identify. It is to make real; to give a name is to recognize. When no name is given, or a name is forgotten or confused with another, then there is no existence. One is rendered invisible—insignificant, unworthy.

    Naming brings order, allows us to put things into categories, opens a space, and allows for a relation to develop with other named objects or people. We name children when they are born; we name each other upon introduction. “Why then,” do I ask myself, “has my name been forgotten, or confused? Why have I been calledMaría...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Striving to Be Queer: Challenging Inequality from Positions of Privilege
    (pp. 66-83)
    Michael Armato

    I should begin by acknowledging that I am White, heterosexual, and male. Given the privileged categories that have structured my life, I appear, at least on the surface, among the least likely of contributors to a volume on challenging privileges in the ivory tower. Nevertheless, I have come to realize that it is precisely my occupation of these privileged categories that places a responsibility on me to challenge those very privileges and work toward social justice. I’ve also come to realize that those of us who are privileged have plenty of opportunity to challenge inequalities—if we open our eyes...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE One Activist Intellectual’s Experience in Surviving and Transforming the Academy
    (pp. 84-105)
    Jose Guillermo Zapata Calderon

    My survival in higher education has its roots in the connections between my lived experience as the immigrant son of farm worker parents and the lessons learned in overcoming systemic obstacles as a community organizer and intellectual activist. Whenever the road in academia got rough and I had to face another hurdle, I always remembered the difficulties that my immigrant farm worker family had to face. In this way, the problems I encountered in academia appeared smaller and more manageable. My struggles with learning English and growing up in a poor immigrant farm worker family became the foundations of language,...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Activist-Scholar Alliances for Social Change: The Transformative Power of University-Community Collaborations
    (pp. 106-119)
    David Naguib Pellow

    Since 1985 I have been intimately involved in struggles against environmental racism and human rights abuses occurring in the United States and globally. My activism began with a youth movement organization in my hometown, Nashville, Tennessee, and continued with my participation and leadership in anti-apartheid, solidarity, animal rights, antiracist, global justice, and environmental justice movements. My parents’ deep involvement in the civil rights movement in the U.S. South left an unmistakable imprint on my view of the world, and their wisdom continues to shape my thinking and political activities today.

    My father recently retired from a successful career as a...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Transformative Disjunctures in the Academy: Asian American Studies as Praxis
    (pp. 120-144)
    Linda Trinh Võ

    Nothing in my early childhood narrative indicated I would become a professor at an American university teaching about racial paradigms. During the Vietnam War, I lived with my grandmother in a rural village in South Vietnam, and she did her best to protect my sister and me from the ravages of warfare. We rarely saw my mother, who worked as a domestic in Saigon, where she met my Czech-Irish American stepfather, who grew up in the immigrant neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago. He worked for the U.S. embassy, and after their marriage they moved to Washington, D.C., where...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT Queering the Ivory Tower: Tales of a Troublemaking Homosexual
    (pp. 145-182)
    Brett C. Stockdill

    This reaction to my research presentation on prison AIDS activism during a job interview illuminates the complexity of homophobia and anti-activist bias in the ivory tower. Being gayandbeing an activist, a prison AIDS activist no less (think anal sex, intravenous drug use, prisoners, etc.), in the academy provokes feelings of fear, uneasiness, and anger. Protesting—disrupting business as usual, especially getting arrested—is perceived to be the problem,notthe lack of HIV prevention or health care for prisoners living with HIV/AIDS (Stockdill 1995). My experiences of the academy have often meant being seen not just as a...

    (pp. 183-200)
    (pp. 201-204)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 205-217)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 218-219)