Shattering Silences: Dictions, Contradictions, and Ethnic Studies at the Crossroads

  • George Lipsitz

Abstract

The denial of tenure at Harvard to Lorgia García-Peña is a defeat for academic excellence and for social justice. Yet the mechanisms deployed to enact it are so transparently illegitimate that it holds the potential to be the kind of short-term defeat that points the way toward long-term victory in the future. The tenure denial is an insult and an injury that demands a collective response from antiracist and decolonial scholars. Turning indignation into action requires receiving the message sent by Harvard not as it was intended, as a warning to other scholars against walking down the trail blazed by García-Peña, but instead as a prompt toward the opposite conclusion, to choose to follow in her footsteps. Her dismissal from the Harvard faculty can be one of those moments in history when repression goes too far, becomes too transparent, compromises its own credibility, and comes back to haunt its perpetrators. This can become a watershed moment for the field of ethnic studies and the constituencies to which it is accountable if ethnic studies teachers and students analyze, interpret, and build on it in the right ways.

Published
2021-04-27
Section
Symposium on the Scholarship and Teaching of Lorgia García-Peña