This title is part of American Studies Now and available as an e-book first. Visit ucpress.edu/go/americanstudiesnow
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In the post–World War II period, students rebelled against the university establishment. In student-led movements, women, minorities, immigrants, and indigenous people demanded that universities adapt to better serve the increasingly heterogeneous public and student bodies. The success of these movements had a profound impact on the intellectual landscape of the twentieth century: out of these efforts were born ethnic studies, women’s studies, and American studies.
In We Demand,
Roderick A. Ferguson demonstrates that less than fifty years since this pivotal shift in the academy, the university is moving away from “the people” in all their diversity. Today the university is refortifying its commitment to the defense of the status quo off campus and the regulation of students, faculty, and staff on campus. The progressive forms of knowledge that the student-led movements demanded and helped to produce are being attacked on every front. Not only is this a reactionary move against the social advances since the ’60s and ’70s—it is part of the larger threat of anti-intellectualism in the United States.
Roderick A. Ferguson is Professor of American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and African American Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He was Associate Editor of American Quarterly from 2007 to 2010.
“We Demand does much more than chronicle how student protests tried to remake the university and its intellectual agendas to reflect the diverse, divergent, dissenting bodies that make up the world—it delivers an incisive and sobering account of reaction, of academic complicity in restoring the status quo and its exclusionary, anti-intellectual structures. Roderick Ferguson’s writing on the university is always on time, always urgent, and always aware that the struggle over knowledge is inseparable from the fight for our lives.”—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
“Roderick Ferguson’s We Demand is an enormously valuable text. It introduces students to the political history of the universities they inhabit, and it defamiliarizes features of those institutions that students might take for granted. And Ferguson provides a provocative intervention in critical university studies by centering student movements and especially those of students of color in the story. Ferguson frames the recent history of universities as a site of struggle in which universities have transformed themselves in response to student protest. He thus offers inspiration that we all need in this moment of renewed struggle for democratic and inclusive universities that make and share knowledge in the interest of social justice.”—Miranda Joseph, author of Debt to Society: Accounting for Life under Capitalism