Duke University was founded on tobacco wealth, and now it has a tobacco-free campus. How should we understand this change? How can communities around this university, and higher education broadly, reckon with our historical and ongoing complicities with tobacco capitalism? This article examines how the individualized subject has been historically constructed, in response to resistances, through supplementary relations between the university and tobacco industries. With abolitionist university studies, the authors focus on the postslavery university as a key site for these individualizing processes. They situate Duke as a nexus of new means of capitalist accumulation, including, on the one hand, the postslavery university as an institution for disciplining, individualizing, and differentiating wage laborers and, on the other, the tobacco industry's shift to monopolization and mass consumption of tobacco commodities. The long Black freedom movement continues in the post-WWII era with resistances that push capitalism into crisis, while simultaneously, capitalism's coping mechanism of tobacco use has the unintended consequence of mass death. This article explores how, at the site of Duke, part of capitalism's response to resistance movements has been to deepen the individualization processes, charging individuals with taking on responsibility for the costs of both tobacco use and higher education. The authors ask how narratives of smoke-free and tobacco-free campuses could interlink with postracial narratives to obscure how the tobacco companies and universities have accumulated capital through racism, deception, dispossession, and exploitation.

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