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From Black Power to Black Studies

, 304 pages

6 halftones, 2 line drawings

August 2007



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From Black Power to Black Studies

How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline

The black power movement helped redefine African Americans' identity and establish a new racial consciousness in the 1960s. As an influential political force, this movement in turn spawned the academic discipline known as Black Studies. Today there are more than a hundred Black Studies degree programs in the United States, many of them located in America’s elite research institutions. In From Black Power to Black Studies, Fabio Rojas explores how this radical social movement evolved into a recognized academic discipline.

Rojas traces the evolution of Black Studies over more than three decades, beginning with its origins in black nationalist politics. His account includes the 1968 Third World Strike at San Francisco State College, the Ford Foundation’s attempts to shape the field, and a description of Black Studies programs at various American universities. His statistical analyses of protest data illuminate how violent and nonviolent protests influenced the establishment of Black Studies programs. Integrating personal interviews and newly discovered archival material, Rojas documents how social activism can bring about organizational change.

Shedding light on the black power movement, Black Studies programs, and American higher education, this historical analysis reveals how radical politics are assimilated into the university system.

Fabio Rojas is an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University.

"Rojas' book makes a significant contribution to the small but growing literature on social movements within organizations; those who study knowledge politics will also find it a useful read."

" From Black Power to Black Studies is a valuable sociological study of the way in which militant student protest led to the institutionalization of African American Studies in higher education. Moreover, it provides insightful analyses of the pitfalls, both institutionally and politically, that have conspired to hamper Black Studies' growth and legitimacy as an academic discipline... Rojas has provided a thoughtful and substantive contribution to the emerging new literature on the origins of Black Studies."

"Rojas has made a qualified yet significant scholarly contribution relevant to multiple disciplines in myriad ways."

"A fascinating account of the development of black studies departments in American colleges and universities."

"There is more than one way to analyze historical phenomena, and the sociologist Fabio Rojas has chosen to approach the issue in sociological terms... historians of the civil rights movement and of American higher education will profit considerably from reading this work."

"Carefully conceived and designed, and contributory... adds to the social science literature on ways in which marginalized groups mobilise to alter established organizations and institutions."

"Rojas’s organizational perspective, informed by a strong foundation in sociological theory, provides valuable insights. As a study of the major issues surrounding the birth and development of Black studies, the book works very well, covering most of the important controversies, often in careful historical detail."

"I know of no other study that brings to bear such diverse bodies of scholarly literature for the purpose of investigating trends, developments, and future challenges relating to the evolving field of Black Studies. Rojas's detailed analysis of the struggle for Black Studies at San Francisco State College—together with a comparative study of the discipline at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Harvard University—makes this project one of the most important examinations to date of the genealogy and institutionalization of Black Studies in the academy."

"Fabio Rojas's history of the development of Black Studies explores power relationships in the context of politics, race, and academia in the era of black power. This is a thorough and rewarding study of the people, events, and ideas that gave birth to and nurtured Black Studies."

"Fabio Rojas’s illuminating account of the social movement origins of Black Studies and its development as an academic discipline contributes significantly to our understanding of the evolution of Black Studies and the intersection of social movements, organizations, black power, and higher education. It will be of special interest to scholars in all these areas."

"How does a fiery social movement adapt to institutions of higher learning? How do institutions respond to conflict, co-opt challengers, and absorb change? And how do movements cope with society's declining receptivity to reform? Fabio Rojas's book answers these questions and is a must read for activists and for scholars of African American politics and social movements."

"Roja’s treatment of the subtleties and ambiguities of the coevolution process that black studies and American academia underwent together is well-balanced and complex."

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