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The Future of Black Studies (In Theory)

Brittney Cooper, American Studies

April 9, 2019 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 010 East Pyne

Program in American Studies

This paper revisits the moment of emergence for Black studies, paying particular attention to the ferment of social and cultural activity that happened in the early 1970s. Through attention to the publication of Toni Cade Bambara’s The Black Woman (1970), the advent of the National Black Feminist Organization (1973), and an examination of early Black studies programs in the university, I want to think through the tensions between the institutionalization of Black or African American studies and alternate sites of Black study in local communities and activist spaces. I argue that looking at these alternate sites of Black study might be especially relevant for re-thinking the project of Black studies in the 21st century, particularly since the political and intellectual demands of the Movement for Black Lives are situated within a firm critique of the neoliberal university and its inability to serve the needs of Black students.

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