Professional Conferences and the Challenges of Studying Black Politics

Virtual Issue: Diversity, Inclusiveness, and Inequality

The APSA Presidential Task Force Report ‘Political Science in the 21st Century report’, now just over five years old, offered a number of recommendations to the discipline including several related to political science research on diversity and racial, ethnic, and gendered marginalization. After reading APSA journals articles published in the years prior to and following the taskforce report, Dianne Pinderhughes and Maryann Kwakwa, both of the University of Notre Dame, argue that, while there have been important steps toward increasing multicultural diversity in political science research and teaching, the barriers that contributed to its marginalization in the past continue to exist. The following article is included in the virtual review issue.

Professional Conferences and the Challenges of Studying Black Politics

by Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd, Rutgers University, Byron D’Andra Orey Jackson State University, and  Khalilah Brown-DeanQuinnipiac University

This article deviates slightly from others in this symposium because we compare the environment, the benefits, and the substance related to the work of what we term “mainstream conferences” and “group-specific conferences.” Mainstream conferences are those in which researchers tend to operate a priori from a broad set of theories consisting of a universal set of concepts that are assumed to apply to broad categories with little regard to subgroups or context. In contrast, group-specific conferences focus on topics associated with singular or intersectional group-based identities. We investigate the American Political Science Association (APSA) and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) because of their shared history and prominence as leading organizations in political science. We argue that because mainstream research often fails to provide the historical and cultural context necessary to properly analyze Black politics, those scholars who grapple with these issues are forced to pursue alternative spaces for engaging their work. Following Gaines and Reed (1994) we use the concept “going underground” to reference conferences that allow scholars to address topics often ignored or undervalued in the mainstream literature. 1

Khalilah Brown-Dean

PS: Political Science & PoliticsVolume 48Issue 2 / April 2015 , pp. 319-323