Facing the Nation and the University: A Model for Institutional Transformation

  • Priscilla Leiva Temple University Press


This essay responds to Sánchez’s invitation to start in a specific place to consider a larger story in order to describe his impact as both a scholar and an institution builder. This essay will do so by putting two of his pieces in conversation: “Face the Nation,” which offers new conceptual frameworks to understand a multiracial society, and “Crossing Figueroa: The Tangled Web of Diversity and Democracy,” in which he theorizes the role of the university and the struggle for democracy both inside and outside its walls. By reading these two pieces together, scholars of racial formation may gain insight regarding three critical interventions that the field now takes for granted. First, multiracial interaction is regularly a research topic that complicates binaries of Black and white because Sánchez, his colleagues, and his predecessors began asking different questions about race. His students have been central to pushing the edges of the field, proving that good mentorship is more than generosity. Second, the fact that Sánchez, a preeminent historian, engages multiple fields in theorizing multiracial interaction demonstrates the political urgency of reading and writing beyond the discipline. Lastly, Sánchez’s efforts to diversify university faculty and create conditions of success for faculty of color is central to making the university live up to its promises of civic responsibility and democracy. Ultimately, his body of work both on and off the page demonstrates his importance in bringing different worlds, disciplines, and individuals together.