Discussion Questions for Week 5: Brick Walls, Labor, and Slavery in the University

For March 2, we will be reading:

  • Sara Ahmed, On Being Included (Intro, ch1) (optional: ch5)
  • Harris, Campbell, & Brophy, Slavery in the University (Intro)
  • Optional reading: Marc Bousquet, How the University Works (ch1)

Discussion Questions

As always, you are welcome to select one or more of these questions to use as a framework for your response, or you may wish to reflect on a different topic or question.

  • Think about Ahmed’s image of the brick wall. What are some examples of how you see this play out in your own educational experiences, or in the readings?
  • Consider a close-reading approach to Ahmed’s work. What does she do with specific words, like “stranger” or “passing”? How does her use of language affect the way you understand her argument?
  • Thinking methodologically for a moment, Ahmed advances her inquiry into institutional diversity by following paper around campus. What kind of method is this, and do you see ways to employ a similar approach in your intellectual work at the GC or in other institutions?
  • Today’s readings share an emphasis on how insidious white supremacy can be when it seems invisible—a false neutrality that privileges whiteness, for instance, or an illustrious image that glosses over a history of enslaved labor. Reflect on this matter of invisibility, perhaps considering how we see it in our own institutions.

The photo essays, poetry, infographics, and other kinds of responses have been wonderful; feel free to get creative!