The 2020 uprisings against anti-Black state violence prompted a surge of attention to anti-racism, a surge that has included academia and libraries and that has appeared in these spaces partly in the form of increased attention to questions of race and power as a central focus of research and scholarship. At the same time, the uprisings have foregrounded compelling questions about racism’s operations as a central and structuring force in contemporary life, including its role in shaping the universities and colleges that form the immediate institutional backdrop to (and the frequent focus of) our research and scholarship.
With this tension between anti-racist impulse and institutional complicity in mind, this lecture will offer a critical reflection on the state of scholarship on race and power in Library and Information Studies (especially as it relates to academic libraries). It will focus specifically on the implicit stories about race, racism, and anti-racism that tend to be reproduced through our scholarship, as well as on the anti-racist politics of such stories. What interests do these stories serve where the material persistence of structures of racialized violence is concerned? And what are the consequences of failure to attend critically to such anti-racist politics within our scholarship?
Alongside exploration of these questions, this lecture will reflect on the ways in which the conditions within which much of our research is undertaken present barriers to a deepening of these politics. Finally, it will turn to consideration of the specific role that collective study and mutual scholarly support might play in finding paths beyond such barriers.
(See the Speaker section at the bottom of this page for information about our speaker, David James Hudson.)