Brittney Cooper: "The Future of Black Studies (In Theory)"
This paper revisits the moment of emergence for Black studies, paying particular attention to the ferment of social and cultural activity in the early 1970s. Through attention to the publication of Toni Cade Bambara’s The Black Woman (1970), the advent of the National Black Feminist Organization (1973), and an examination of early Black studies programs in the university, Brittney Cooper thinks through the tensions between the institutionalization of Black or African American studies and alternate sites of Black study in local communities and activist spaces, and argues that looking at these alternate sites of Black study might be especially relevant for re-thinking the project of Black studies in the 21st century, particularly since the political and intellectual demands of the Movement for Black Lives are situated within a firm critique of the neoliberal university and its inability to serve the needs of Black students.
Brittney Cooper is associate professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, and the Spring 2019 Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies at Princeton University. She is author of Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women (University of Illinois Press, May 2017) and Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower (St. Martin’s Press, February 2018). Her cultural commentary has been featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post, on MSNBC and NPR, and widely elsewhere.