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Race, Class, Gender, and the University: Struggles within and beyond the Campus Walls The university under capitalism is a site of political unevenness and contradiction. While academia promotes an image of impartiality and liberality in terms of viewpoints, scholarship, and diversity, those who don’t adhere to the restricted parameters of institutionalized “neutrality” are often marginalized, slandered, and sometimes dismissed. Indeed, as Steven Salaita argues, “disinterest and objectivity” are more often aligned with ruling powers both within and outside the walls of the academy. While identitarian positioning is often encouraged, solidarity that challenges systems of racial and gendered oppression or that exposes the symbiotic relationships between academic knowledge-production and imperialism are systematically repressed. At this same time, the university--perhaps especially our austerity-prone public universities, which often serve 'majority minority' and working-class students-- still can provide fertile ground for radical thinking and new social connections with the potential to resist hegemonic capitalist regimes of 'divide and rule.' Accordingly, this panel seeks to discuss the intersections of race, class, and gender struggles that challenge the status-quo politics within the university, or that use the base of the university to challenge capitalism and imperialism beyond the campus walls. While we intend to address some of the limits of critique offered by institutionalized identity politics, primarily this panel will offer first-hand accounts and theorization of alternative models for radical social justice organizing within the university space, with a view towards building resistance beyond the confines of campus-oriented politics.


Joseph G. Ramsey is writer, activist and organizer, based in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He teaches English and American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he is an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Staff Union (FSU/MTA), a member of the Caucus for a... Read more
John Maerhofer is an educator and activist based in New York City. He teaches writing studies and literature at Hofstra University. He is involved in prison abolition and migrant labor rights in the greater NYC area. His articles have appeared in Cultural Logic, South Atlantic Quarterly,... Read more
Basuli Deb is a Global Scholar at the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers-New Brunswick and a CUNY faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies and English departments. From summer she will be joining the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University as Visiting Scholar. Deb has... Read more
Kanishka Chowdhury is professor of English and director of the American Culture and Difference Program at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in human rights discourse, postcolonial studies, and cultural theory. His latest... Read more