Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Department

Education

First Advisor

Annemarie Vaccaro

Abstract

Despite decades of research into the racial construct known as whiteness (e.g., Roediger, 1991; Frankenberg, 1993; Leonardo, 2002), as well as on white privilege and racism within predominantly white institutions (PWIs) (e.g., Harper & Hurtado, 2007), little research exists exploring the work of white faculty who confront racism in teaching, research, or service. In this study, I applied a Critical White Studies (Delgado & Stefancic, 1997) analytical frame to a Constructivist Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2006) study of white anti-racist faculty in two predominantly white institutions within a state higher education system. The study used interviews with 11 white faculty members to discover how their anti-racist work informed their identity as a white person and their conceptual awareness of whiteness as an ideological framework. Particular attention was given to the historical and present contexts in which the participants have lived and worked. Participants all identified experiences which the literature suggests lead to anti-racist praxis, a space wherein critical engagement with race and racism compels individuals to anti-racist action (Perry & Shotwell, 2009). The study also found, however, that the institutional spaces in which they conducted their work were not conducive to ongoing growth and development. Rather, participants far more frequently described barriers in the form of resistance from white colleagues, a cultural disconnect among administrators, and an overall lack of institutional awareness concerning the needs of students, faculty, and staff of color. The majority were not optimistic about the possibilities of large-scale change, but did suggest developmental needs and offered ideas for practice. A critical emergent theory of white faculty anti-racist praxis at predominantly white institutions is presented.

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