Event Title

The Management of Difference in Imperialism: Exploring the Discourse of ‘Diversity’ as Imaginedby Three U.S. Institutions of Higher Education

Presenter Information

Tomoyo Joshi, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center A155

Start Date

10-2-2015 3:00 PM

End Date

10-2-2015 4:20 PM

Abstract

In this project, I explore the concept of ‘diversity’ as imagined by a select group of four-year institutions of higher education by examining public documents and virtual spaces accessible online. I propose a shorthand definition of diversity that reflects colloquial uses because part of my goal is to analyze the range of meaning and value assigned to the concept by different schools. In the most fundamental terms, I question how diversity has been institutionalized, and what definitions of diversity these institutions have taken. What does it mean to claim a ‘diverse student body’ or to ‘respect diversity’? In examining the mission statements, Admissions pages, and the diversity sections of my chosen institutions, I posit that discourse (forms of representation and habits of language that produce specific fields of culturally and historically located meanings) of diversity produce an ideal student-citizen who ‘embodies diversity.’ Why is diversity considered important and worth talking about? My purpose is not to judge whether these institutions have demonstrated diversity or if they have managed difference successfully. Rather, I analyze what the discourse of diversity reveals about the institutionalization of marginalized subjects. Ultimately, I examine where the discourse of diversity takes institutions of higher education and how it can function as a tool of forgetting/ignoring U.S. imperialism.

Notes

Session II, Panel 4 - EDUCATION: Discourses & Institutions

Major

Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Award

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF)

Project Mentor(s)

Ann Sherif, East Asian Studies
Jan Cooper, Rhetoric and Composition

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Oct 2nd, 3:00 PM Oct 2nd, 4:20 PM

The Management of Difference in Imperialism: Exploring the Discourse of ‘Diversity’ as Imaginedby Three U.S. Institutions of Higher Education

Science Center A155

In this project, I explore the concept of ‘diversity’ as imagined by a select group of four-year institutions of higher education by examining public documents and virtual spaces accessible online. I propose a shorthand definition of diversity that reflects colloquial uses because part of my goal is to analyze the range of meaning and value assigned to the concept by different schools. In the most fundamental terms, I question how diversity has been institutionalized, and what definitions of diversity these institutions have taken. What does it mean to claim a ‘diverse student body’ or to ‘respect diversity’? In examining the mission statements, Admissions pages, and the diversity sections of my chosen institutions, I posit that discourse (forms of representation and habits of language that produce specific fields of culturally and historically located meanings) of diversity produce an ideal student-citizen who ‘embodies diversity.’ Why is diversity considered important and worth talking about? My purpose is not to judge whether these institutions have demonstrated diversity or if they have managed difference successfully. Rather, I analyze what the discourse of diversity reveals about the institutionalization of marginalized subjects. Ultimately, I examine where the discourse of diversity takes institutions of higher education and how it can function as a tool of forgetting/ignoring U.S. imperialism.