Envisioning The “Woke” Academy™ is the theme for the 2018 ASHE Conference in Tampa, FL. Although a fairly recent colloquialism, the term “woke” has become synonymous with the Black Lives Matter Movement and other activist efforts, as well as social media campaigns and hashtags (#staywoke; #getwoke; #bewoke). Being “woke” is meant to encourage a heightened level of consciousness both locally and transnationally regarding societal ills and the need to unabashedly name and dismantle inequitable power structures and their disproportionately negative effects on minoritized peoples. Being “woke” engages us in the envisioning of futures characterized by freedom and emancipatory struggle.
Colleges and universities are often touted as spaces of enlightenment. As higher education researchers and scholars, we have access to information and the power to determine what knowledge is and which knowledges are valuable. We oftentimes enact that power in ways that dictate who can access our institutions; promote elitism to suggest which people belong and which do not; deny particular types of scholarship from appearing in our closely guarded academic publishing spaces; and, that refuse to grapple with how our research, the types of questions we ask and the methodologies we use, make us complicit in academic sleepwalking. As a community of scholars, we comfortably enact oppression disguised in a beautifully crafted quilt of patches we call diversity, equity, and social justice. We may sound “woke” through our rhetoric, but perhaps we are sound asleep. We function under a false security that allows us to close our eyes to those most vulnerable and invisible in higher education and the larger transnational context.
The Woke Academy™ is critically conscious and thoughtful about the ways in which postsecondary institutions, and we as researchers in these institutions facilitate spaces that are experienced as violent and inaccessible. Critically conscious scholars are those who envision and actively contribute to the academy as a space for immeasurable possibilities, particularly for those who have been repeatedly disenfranchised.
The Woke Academy™ values history as a process of remembering that the societal ills we face today are the direct result of settler colonialism and its manifestation through deeply entrenched acts, laws, and policies enacted over time. We are first called to remember that our colleges and universities are on stolen land built by stolen and exploited bodies. The process of recognizing who we remember, what we remember and how we remember either implicates us in the creation of healing spaces that openly acknowledge past wrongs or relegates us to a continued pattern of a historicism and epistemological erasure of people and communities we claim to care about.
May 4, 2018 Proposal Submissions Due
Nov 14 - 15, 2018 Pre-conferences
Nov 15 - 17, 2018 General Conference