Abstract

Taking as its point of departure an essay published in 1994 by renowned Black feminist Barbara Christian, this paper examines the U.S. university as a crucial site for contemporary transnational capital's management of race. The university adapts to the new demands of a globalized economy in at least two distinct but related ways. One is certainly in relation to issues of demography and access; in the deindustrializing economy of the United States, the university is complicit in the maintenance of wealth and resource inequities in a variety of ways. Thus, the question of whom the university excludes and whom it exploits is a very important one. However, any complete attempt to address the university's changing role under globalization requires a consideration of the university as an institution of knowledge production, a function that remains surprisingly underexamined. This paper examines these two questions—the economic and the epistemic—in relation to each other, by examining the university's management of racialized bodies as a function of its management of racialized knowledge. Indeed, if we take the university as an exemplary institution of global capital, we find that knowledge production is a key mechanism through which economic or demographic processes are organized. Against such a mobilization of knowledge, this essay situates black feminism as a site of alternative futurity.

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