1st Edition

Civility, Free Speech, and Academic Freedom in Higher Education Faculty on the Margins

Edited By Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, Kakali Bhattacharya Copyright 2021
    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    Civility, Free Speech, and Academic Freedom in Higher Education: Faculty on the Margins represents a multidisciplinary approach, deploying different theoretical, methodological, sociological, political, and creative perspectives to articulate the stakes of civility for marginalized faculty within the landscape of higher education.

    How has the discourse on civility and free speech within academia become a systemic and oppressive form of silencing, suppressing, or eradicating marginal voices? What are some overt and covert ways in which institutions are using the logic of civility to control faculty uprising against the increasingly corporate-controlled landscape of higher education? This collection of essays examines the continuum between the post-9/11 and the post-Trump era backlashes. It details the organized retaliations against those in academia whose views and scholarships articulate their discontents against the U.S.-led "War on Terror." It contests the rise of White supremacy, Trump’s Muslim ban, anti-immigrant and racist government policies and rhetoric, and those who support the Boycott and Divestment Sanctions movements within the corporatized universities.

    All of these new and original essays shed light and further the debate on the various modes of civility that have become politicized within the U.S. academy. It will have a broad appeal to a cross section of national and international academics, activist scholars, social justice educators and researchers in the field of higher education.


    Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt and Kakali Bhattacharya

    Part I. Black Bodies: Weaponizing the Personal

    1. American Perversions or: The Incredibly Twisted, Horribly True Story of How I Got Educated in the Academy

    Shannon Gibney

    2. A History of White Violence Tells Us Attacks on Black Academics are Not Ending (I Know Because it Happened to Me)

    Saida Grundy

    3. No Actual Bodies Needed or "Girl. What are You Looking At?": The Looking and Seeing of Time and Space in Ken Gonzales-Day’s Shadowlands as a Disruption of Normalized U.S. American Institutionalized Racial Violence Against Brown and Black Bodies

    Taiyon J. Coleman

    Part II. Civility, Repression, and Academic Freedom: Bodies on the Line

    4. Universities, Civility, and Repression in the Age of New Media: Surveillance Capital and Resistance

    Mohan J. Dutta

    5. On the Social Epistemology of Academic Freedom

    Arianne Shahvisi

    6. The Rhetoric of Civility as Soft Repression

    Dana L. Cloud

    7. What Did We Provoke? BIPOC/WOC Calling Out White Supremacy in the Academy

    Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt

    Part III. Politics of Permissibility and Absurdity: Narratives of Civility

    8. Civility and the Bounds of the Permissible: Scholars of Color Embodying the Very Social-Political Dynamics at the Heart of their Critiques

    Matthew Abraham

    9. The "F" Bomb and the "R" Word

    Jeong-Eun Rhee and Mary Pigliacelli

    10. Chronicles Exploring Hegemonic Civility and the Evisceration of Academic Freedom for Critical Womyn of Color

    Manali J. Sheth and Natasha N. Croom

    11. Civility as Absurdity: Absurdity as Civility in Higher Education

    Kakali Bhattacharya

    Afterword: The Civility-Incivility Paradox

    Johnny Williams


    Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt is Edith Green Distinguished Professor and teaches in the Department of English and Gender Studies at Linfield University in Oregon. She is the author of The Postcolonial Citizen: The Intellectual Migrant (2010) and serves as the editor for Inside Higher Ed’s column "Conditionally Accepted."

    Kakali Bhattacharya is an award-winning professor at University of Florida housed in Research, Evaluation, and Measurement Program. She is the 2018 winner of AERA’s Mid-Career Scholar of Color Award. Her co-authored text with Kent Gillen, Power, Race, and Higher Education: A Cross-Cultural Parallel Narrative has won a 2017 Outstanding Publication Award from AERA (SIG 168) and a 2018 Outstanding Book Award from the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry.

    "This is the book we've been waiting for: a riveting account of the long war on academic freedom, free speech and political dissent in the academy from the standpoint of its heroic victims. Scholars engaged in the most advanced writing and activism around Black Lives Matter, Palestine solidarity, and critiques of U.S. empire testify from the front-lines of the struggle to decolonize higher education.  This is the best volume we have yet exposing the sham use of 'civility' discourse to silence those who speak truth to power." -- Bill V. Mullen, Professor Emeritus of American Studies, Purdue University USA

    "When people think of attacks on academic freedom, they typically envision them coming from the far right which has long sought to curtail critical thinking. This powerful and timely anthology shows that in fact the problem is much more structural--the institutional logic of the neoliberal university and its wholesale adoption of "civility" discourse pose a grave threat to free speech and academic freedom. With a focus on how scholars of color who critique structural inequities are disciplined, this book offers an invaluable analysis of the climate today for academics and what we can do to effectively teach, research and organize for social and racial justice." -- Deepa Kumar, Professor of Media Studies Rutgers University, USA

    "Civility, Free Speech, and Academic Freedom in Higher Education: Faculty on the Margins reminds us that academic freedom is not free. Dutt-Ballerstadt and Bhattacharya have produced a volume centering faculty and scholars who pay the price as they dare to resist, critique, and unapologetically problematize civility, free speech, and academic freedom. This book reveals how these values are often weaponized against the scholars most committed to realizing their true meaning and disrupting the status quo of brazen inequality within and beyond the academy. Readers will find this book to be a necessary and highly sought resource to generate dialogue, shift discourses, and inform praxis." -- Lori Patton Davis, Professor, The Ohio State University

    "Dutt-Ballerstadt and Bhattacharya’s Civility, Free Speech, and Academic Freedom in Higher Education: Faculty on the Margins shows how universities--and the outside organizations and politicians that manipulate weak administrators and the media--make a mockery of ideas of “diversity.” This volume shows the price faculty on the margins are asked to pay for remaining true to their vocation and pedagogical principles, and makes the essential point: solidarity is everything, especially in these times." -- David Palumbo-Liu, Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor, Stanford University, USA

    "The academy has long prided itself as a place where open debate, critique, and diversity of ideas are welcome.  However, the visceral first person accounts and the conceptual analytical essays in this volume remind us of the systemic overt and covert ways that the academy is anything but civil or accepting of free speech by faculty in the margins. The essays in Civility, Free Speech, and Academic Freedom in Higher Education: Faculty on the Margins provide both comfort for faculty on the margins who have had similar experiences and conviction for university leaders who claim a commitment to both academic freedom and faculty diversity. After finishing the volume, may readers vow to do their parts to create more just higher education institutions where margins do not exist and true academic freedom is available to all faculty." -- Tamara Bertrand Jones, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies & Associate Director for the Center for Postsecondary Success, Florida State University, USA