Insurgent Academics

Insurgent Academics, my new book project, constructs an intellectual history of what I term “academic insurgency,” which links contemporary developments in mobilized, experimental, digital, and public humanities emerging in African diaspora, U.S. ethnic, and postcolonial studies to a longer trajectory of interventions made by scholars of color within higher education. These “insurgent academics,” I argue, articulate a subversive style of engagement in humanities knowledge production marked by fluid and flexible leaps between genres of writing; between public audiences, academic audiences, and community partners; between modes of scholarly communication; and between academic disciplines. But far from being new, academic insurgency, I suggest, is connected to a lineage that begins with professors’ protest literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; continues with the academic trajectories of a range of postcolonial, U.S. ethnic, and African diaspora intellectuals like W.E.B. Du Bois, Audre Lorde, Sylvia Wynter, bell hooks, and others throughout the 20th century; and is connected to movements in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s to establish black and ethnic studies departments, as well as the emergence of third world and postcolonial feminisms in the 1980s and 1990s. This mode of academic insurgency, I argue, holds possibilities for not only transforming humanities knowledge production but also for changing the very nature of higher education itself.