Black Scholars Respond to Dr. Lorgia García Peña Tenure Denial at Harvard

Historians in the News
tags: Harvard, academia, Black Perspectives

The African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) stands in solidarity with Dr. Lorgia García Peña, a Black Studies scholar who was recently denied tenure at Harvard University. We are publishing the following letter addressed to Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow to draw attention to the importance of Dr. García Peña’s work (which we featured on our blog in 2016) and openly denounce white supremacy in the academy. To add your signature to the letter, please email Dr. Raj Chetty at rchetty@sdsu.edu with your full name, job title(s), and institutional affiliation. — Keisha N. Blain, AAIHS President


Dear President Bacow,

We submit this letter in response to the decision to deny tenure to Dr. Lorgia García Peña. As scholars in Black Studies, we research and teach about the long histories of activist-intellectual work that undergirds all social change, including but not limited to changes in higher education. We understand the importance of linking national and international movements for social change to the development of social theories, histories, and art that respond to and build from these movements. We recognize that this work is part of Harvard’s own history, as the coming year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Department of African and African American Studies (AAAS), emerging from Civil Rights struggle, black struggle, and the momentous events of 1968, particularly on campuses across the United States, and globally.

It is clear to us that Dr. García Peña’s work is part of the long struggle against anti-blackness and for a more just world. While her scholarship has a clear relevance for Ethnic Studies, Latinx Studies, and Caribbean Studies, we see her work’s deep relevance for Black Studies, especially at this conjuncture in which Blackness and Latinidad rises to prominence at the intersecting interdisciplinary fields of Latinx Studies and Black Studies. As the work of Arturo Schomburg, Nicolás Guillén, and Ana Livia Cordero makes clear, international alliances between blacks in the U.S. and in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean have a long and storied history. However, we see the current intellectual moment as one in which a global Black Studies is re-emergent, with particular attention to relations between and among Afro-Latinxs and Blacks in the U.S., Blacks in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Blacks in Europe. Dr. García Peña is at the forefront of scholarship attending to studies of the inter-cultural relations between blacks in these different sites of the diaspora, and her work is of international renown. In denying her tenure, Harvard has failed to see the import of her rigorously comparative and globally attuned study of black creative cultures.

Read entire article at Black Perspectives

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