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Critical Studies of Southern Place

A Reader


Edited By William M. Reynolds

Critical Studies of Southern Place: A Reader critically investigates and informs the construction of Southernness, Southern identity, and the South past and present. It promotes and expands the notion of a Southern epistemology. Authors from across the South write about such diverse topics as Southern working-class culture; LGBT issues in the South; Southern music; Southern reality television; race and ethnicity in the South; religion in the South; sports in the South; and Southernness. How do these multiple interpretations of popular culture within critical conceptualizations of place enhance our understandings of education? Critical Studies of Southern Place investigates the connections between the critical examination of place-specific culture and its multiple connections with education and pedagogy. This important book fills a significant gap in the scholarly work on the ramifications of place. Readers will be able to center the importance of place in their own scholarship and cultural work as well as be able to think deeply about how Southern place affects us all.
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Chapter Thirty: Finding My Place in/Against a Peculiar Institution



Finding My Place In/Against a Peculiar Institution


Reader, beware: This story does not have a happy ending. I do not conclude this chapter analyzing my continuing journey as a black woman teacher-educator working in a predominantly white institution in the South with a well-ordered, prescriptive list of suggestions for how to make things better for women like me in the academy. The extant literature by black women scholars in predominantly white institutions across the United States includes many painfully familiar personal narratives of struggle as well as research examining the historical, social, cultural, economic, and political barriers many black women experience in higher education (Benjamin, 1997; Berry & Mizelle, 2006; Collins, 2000, 2013; James & Farmer, 1993; Mabokela & Green, 2001; Muhs, Niemann, Gonzalez, & Harris, 2012). Most black women scholars who engage in this line of research do so for the express purpose of confronting racist and sexist oppression in the academy, as well as challenging institutional and epistemological hierarchies. Much of this research tends toward a solutions-centered approach whereby scholars tell black women what to do to “survive” or “heal” the wounds of oppression and what administrators can do to “improve” or “transform” oppressive institutional cultures. Much of the research leaves readers hopeful that black women can indeed be successful in the academy if they develop “coping” strategies and if the institutional culture is “supportive.”

I deliberately write this chapter in defiance of this...

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