Special Issue: “Merit, Whiteness, and Privilege”: Departures in Critical Qualitative Research (DCQR)

Departures in Critical Qualitative Research (DCQR)
Special Issue:  “Merit, Whiteness, and Privilege”

Elizabeth Desnoyers-Colas (Georgia Southern University); Mohan J. Dutta (Massey University); Amardo Rodriguez (Syracuse University)

Hard Deadline: July 1, 2019

Submission Length: 1500-2000 words

The Communication Discipline has a racism problem. In fact, the discipline has long had a racism problem, silenced by overarching structures that deploy the language of civility to erase conversations. These racist undertones of the discipline, written and co-opted into the articulations of diversity, equity, and inclusion came tumbling out on June 10, 2019, when an editorial written by a Distinguished Scholar of the discipline, Martin Medhurst, for his edited journal, Rhetoric and Public Affairs was widely circulated. In the letter, Professor Medhurst rehashed the oft-used trope of “diversity and merit” to attack the democratizing processes being built by a new leadership of the National Communication Association, responding to the ongoing organizing of scholars of color to protest the insular and exclusionary processes of select of the distinguished scholars in the discipline. The subsequent decision by the National Communication Association to release the correspondence between the organization and its Distinguished Scholars brought to public the letter from the Distinguished Scholars, rife with elitist and racist undertones, ironically packaged as openness to diversity and inclusion. These racist responses have generated strong counter-responses from scholars of colour and White allies, resulting in a letter of protest currently being circulated alongside strong responses from the various sub-divisions of the discipline condemning the racism.

We situate our call for submissions for this special issue, “Merit, Whiteness, and Privilege” in conversation with the anti-racist articulations emerging across the discipline. The racist formations that constitute the infrastructures of disciplines are often tucked away, carefully hidden into articulations of merit. Evaluations of academic work then systematically draw on narratives of merit to devalue, undermine, and erase voices from the margins. Merit works to uphold academic privilege that is at its heart racist, while giving the appearance of neutrality. Whiteness forms the normative structures of disciplines, written into the norms, protocols, and structures of everyday life. The messages, “You are not good enough,” “You didn’t try hard enough,” “You didn’t prepare your application packet” well enough that often work under the guise of merit to uphold the White structures of our disciplines. These messages are complemented by norms of civility and politeness to exclude, erase, and marginalize, as we witness with the experiences of Professor Steven Salaita, Saida Grundy, and Marc Lamont Hill.

This special issue of DCQR invites submissions that grapple with the politics of Whiteness, its intertwined relationship with the articulations of merit and the upholding of privilege. How do elite structures reproduce erasure through protocols? How do articulations of merit work to disenfranchise academics of colour? How do frames of academic labour work to silence voices of academics of colour? What strategies of resistance might we cultivate in dismantling Whiteness? While these conversations in this special issue respond directly to the current context of the challenges to Whiteness in the discipline of Communication, we invite essays from academics in related disciplines that articulate and give voice to these challenges.

Submission preparation and submission:

Manuscripts should be prepared in Microsoft Word using a 12-point common font, double-spaced, and in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. (2017), endnote style (not author date).
Manuscripts should be submitted via email to Devika Chawla at: chawla@ohio.edu.
Final manuscripts will be uploaded to Scholar One with assistance from DCQR’s editorial team.