Making Our Future Through Anti-racist Citation Networks

This year’s SWR blog continues to be dedicated to considering the position of anti-racist scholarly practices to counter prevailing white-supremacist cis-heteropatriarchal Americentric normate practices, and holding each other and ourselves accountable for making this work central to our academic lives. Past and future contributors, include Asao Inoue, Staci Perryman-Clark, and Collin Craig. As C’s approaches, an event that many use to “map” themselves onto the field, we thought a consideration of citation practices might make an interesting contribution to that discussion.

We hope you enjoy the following post. We also hope you look forward to reading Staci and Collin’s discussion of African-American identity and WPA work in the coming weeks.

Steve Parks, Editor

Andre Habet, Associate Editor

P.S. Forgive the bit of delay since our last post, we’ve been working on this season’s author interviews audio book excerpts. Watch the CCCC/NCTE listserv as well as the SWR Facebook for their appearance soon.


Like pretty much anyone with access and ability to make it to a movie theater, I recently watched Black Panther. Like many others, it blew me away and sent my mind churning over all its various elements. What the movie triggered in me was a rethinking once again of the work of Jacqueline Jones Royster in Traces of a Stream, and the way she takes on the work of recovering 19th century American black woman’s literacies as a means of establishing a lineage for her and other black woman academics whose own literacies are regularly discounted by mainstream white academia.

Similar to Royster, I have been trying to create a reading of the field of rhetoric and composition that works for me and connects me to my communities, thinking through sites where lineages are created. Currently, I am working through an independent study that looks at the intersections of disability rhetorics, architecture, mobility studies, and food studies. In thinking through these intersections, and the work being done within them, I find myself regularly doing an activity after encountering any work I feel may be relevant to the work I want to do. I find myself looking up each individual scholar in search of an image of them, and then using that image as a means to then interrogate how their public identity’s positionalities may be influencing the biases of their work. I do this because I am trying to create a lineage that speaks to an embodied understanding of the world: one that is non-white, queer, and gives consideration to non-normative bodies by which I mean recognizing that no bodies fit a norm and that normal is grade-F balony.

As it sits right now, my work is moving in the direction of thinking through how particular aesthetics and mobility design elements present in higher education institutions create a sense of belonging for particular bodies. To do this work in the way I want to, I want to use work that reckons with this belonging and has confronted its oppressive nature in some manner. For me then, creating a citational network through my work that is primarily queer, non-white, and non-normate feels like the only means of ethically doing the work I’m interested in. It means decentering Foucault as the end all, be all in terms of discussion of institutionalization and surveillance, and synthesizing the works of scholars like Sarah Ahmed, Vandana Shiva, and Aimi Hamraie as starting points to create a lineage I feel confident in strengthening and supporting.

Some may consider this type of anti-racist scholarly practice to be counter to rigorous research that considers the contributions of all to a particular conversation. To that, I say maybe you’re right, but also that that rigor rarely holds white academics accountable for referencing the work of queer and disabled people of color whose contributions have been used as the foundations for entire landscapes of thought not previously imagined. I model this practice on Sarah Ahmed’s embodied feminist scholarly practices who calls on folks wanting to do diversity work to deviate from “well-trodden paths of citation.” Interrogating who I’m using in my work feels increasingly important as I confront the material realities of being a non-American person of color in American academia. Occupying this privileged position increasingly involves dedicating labor towards facilitating the creation of space for queer, non-white colleagues to occupy so that they may more readily hold academia and the field of rhetoric and composition accountable as sites where patriarchal cishetornmative white supremacist ableist ideologies are bred, mutated, and disseminated. When I see a works cited page, I see a potential future. I want people to see my works cited, and envision a queerer, non-disabling environment as something that’s feasible. I want people of color and queer people to see my works cited and recognize the possibility of seeing themselves there, of us making a new timeline.