Between Race and Reason: Violence, Intellectual Responsibility, and the University to Come

Between Race and Reason: Violence, Intellectual Responsibility, and the University to Come

Between Race and Reason: Violence, Intellectual Responsibility, and the University to Come

Between Race and Reason: Violence, Intellectual Responsibility, and the University to Come

Synopsis

Inquiring into the future of the university, Susan Giroux finds a paradox at the heart of higher education in the post-civil rights era. Although we think of "post-civil rights" as representing a colorblind or race transcendent triumphalism in national political discourse, Giroux argues that our present is shaped by persistent "raceless" racism at home and permanent civilizational war abroad. She sees the university as a primary battleground in this ongoing struggle. As the heir to Enlightenment ideals of civic education, the university should be the institution for the production of an informed and reflective democratic citizenry responsible to and for the civic health of the polity, a privileged site committed to free and equal exchange in the interests of peaceful and democratic coexistence. And yet, says Giroux, historically and currently the university has failed and continues to fail in this role.

Between Race and Reason engages the work of diverse intellectuals- Friedrich Nietzsche, W. E. B. Du Bois, Michel Foucault, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jacques Derrida and others- who challenge the university's past and present collusion with racism and violence. The book complements recent work done on the politics of higher education that has examined the consequences of university corporatization, militarization, and bureaucratic rationalization by focusing on the ways in which these elements of a broader neoliberal project are also racially prompted and promoted. At the same time, it undertakes to imagine how the university can be reconceived as a uniquely privileged site for critique in the interests of today's urgent imperatives for peace and justice.

Excerpt

It is an idea that is probably bound up with the whole Western organization of
knowledge, namely, the idea that knowledge and truth cannot not belong to the
register of order and peace, that knowledge and truth can never be found on the
side of violence, disorder, and war.

—MICHEL FOUCAULT, 1976

Now when we compare the technical mastery which man has over the world, with
the utter failure of that power to organize happiness, and peace in the world, then
we know that something is wrong. Part of this wrong is our conception of educa
tion.

—W.E.B. DU BOIS (1944?)

We ain’t goin’ study war no more.

—AN “OLD NEGRO SPIRITUAL”

This book engages an uneasy set of questions about the relationship between the university and public life at the dawn of the twenty-first century. The conditions that have prompted this investigation are all too obvious for those readers who number among humanistic or social scientific faculties, and perhaps only slightly less so for those who have acquired a passing knowledge of current events. For the past few decades, mainstream media have loudly disparaged the ongoing crisis of the university—a crisis the contours of which beg the widest possible interpretative . . .

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