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Subverting institutionalized racism and the culture of white dominance: Interruption as praxis

Maria Montaperto, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In this dissertation I examine how invisible white privilege, as a form of racism, manifests and functions institutionally within higher education. I draw on principles from critical race theory, an inter-disciplinary field of study committed to exposing and deconstructing the multifaceted ways in which racialized identities are (and have historically been) constructed and positioned in order to maintain broad systems of oppression. Within the field of composition and rhetoric, critical race theory in particular includes the study of the socio-rhetorical construction of race and ethnicity within institutional and disciplinary contexts, and its correlation to the ways in which language and education are bound up in questions of power, dominance and authority. ^ This study responds to recurrent requests by race theorists from these disciplines for an "interrogation of whiteness" (Keating, López, Marshall & Ryden), which necessarily includes critical examinations of how the culture of whiteness maintains racial superiority through a socially and institutionally sanctioned system of unrecognized and unacknowledged white norms. My analysis specifically focuses on texts and circumstances I encountered throughout my work as a graduate student within the field of English studies and composition and rhetoric at The University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL), and which I position as one possible example among many of how everyday discursive practices characteristic of such sites work to maintain and perpetuate a system of white dominance that extends well beyond its borders. Also, aside from informing the development of this project, my research into the theoretics of pedagogy, language, identity, hegemony and privilege and the relationships among these has also greatly influenced my work with non-traditional forms of academic discourse which I use here as a means of both conveying and enacting the methodology and theory of privilege I offer. Out of this study, I develop the central principle of the dissertation, that of interruption as praxis---a theoretical and practice-based methodology that both exposes and disrupts self-perpetuating, inequitable systems of invisible privilege--- racial and otherwise. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Language, Rhetoric and Composition

Recommended Citation

Montaperto, Maria, "Subverting institutionalized racism and the culture of white dominance: Interruption as praxis" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3194122.