Our Roundtable

Closing remarks from the producers of Ethnic Studies Rise.

In this final installment for the Ethnic Studies Rise roundtable, Nelson Maldonado-Torres (Rutgers U and Fanon Foundation) and Yomaira Figueroa-Vásquez (Michigan State University) situate Ethnic Studies in longer histories of struggle for justice in and outside of the U.S. academy, and against the white supremacy and Eurocentrism of the modern university. They foreground the marginalization of Ethnic Studies scholars and curricula in the university and highlight the potential of ethnic studies scholars and women of color feminists to decolonize the university.

This conversation features Gabrielle Foreman, Dylan Rodriguez, and Jessica Marie Johnson, who carry forward earlier exchanges in this roundtable on why Ethnic Studies matters now. Each writer trenchantly indicts the academy for its war on the people working in Ethnic Studies and associated fields of study (Black/Africana Studies, Indigenous Studies, Caribbean Studies, Latinx Studies, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Queer Studies, American Studies). In their respective pieces, they counterpose this war with the powerful solidarity each has experienced through Ethnic Studies work, as part of wider communities struggling in, against, and beyond the academy.

Offering a set of provocations and invitations, Joseph M. Pierce (Stony Brook University) and Kaiama L. Glover (Barnard College) dialogue about the vulnerability of the Indigenous, black, and brown person in academia, and the solidarities, alliances, and kinship forged between black and brown intellectuals that pose a real threat to academic institutions. Building from Lorgia García Peña’s tenure denial, Pierce and Glover move from the structural violence attending their positions in academia to push us to think harder about how we do the work of decoloniality and/in Ethnic Studies.

This conversation features historians Elizabeth Manley (Xavier University) and Edward Paulino (John Jay College of Criminal Justice), who reflect on the contributions Lorgia García Peña's The Borders of Dominicanidad makes to the growing field of Dominican Studies. They also address the way the book draws attention to the crucial place of the Dominican Republic and Haiti in histories of the Caribbean, Latin America, and the African Diaspora. Both build from García Peña's insistence that studies of the Dominican Republic move "from the footnote to the center of the page," and what this means in relation to archival work.

In this exchange Urayoán Noel (NYU) and Rachel Afi Quinn (U. Houston) examine the innovative methods of Lorgia García Peña’s The Borders of Dominicanidad. Urayoán Noel highlights the methodology of entering the margins of U.S. and Dominican national archives, which he calls the “Lorgian Margin,” and Rachel Afi Quinn highlights the self-reflexivity of this methodology, pointing to the ways that Lorgia García Peña’s own voice and embodied experience come under self-scrutiny in the text.

In this strong exchange, Frances Negrón-Muntaner (Columbia U.) and Roopika Risam (Salem State U.) discuss why Ethnic Studies now. Negrón-Muntaner discusses how universities approach Ethnic Studies as a threat precisely because Ethnic Studies seeks to overturn the status quo as an “insurrection” from within and without. Roopika Risam continues in the same vein by outlining the imbrication of the university and racial capitalism and declaring the university as we know it “indefensible.”

In this powerful epistolary exchange, Robin D. G. Kelley (UCLA) and Laurent Dubois (Duke U.) respond to a set of guiding questions about the importance of thinking, theorizing, and historicizing race and racial blackness globally, internationally, and transnationally.

In this exchange, Jossianna Arroyo (U. of Texas, Austin), Sharina Maillo-Pozo (U. of Georgia), and Danny Méndez (Michigan State U.) delve into The Borders of Dominicanidad. Arroyo and Maillo-Pozo offer cogent analyses of the book’s wide-ranging contributions, and Méndez offers a moving response to their analyses that considers the book in relation to García Peña’s commitments.