Being Black/Afro-Caribbean early career academics becoming transnational intellectuals

Year: 2012

Author: Four, Joyanne De, Bristol, Laurette, Esnard, Talia, Lavia, Jennifer, Perez, Lisa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This paper is a direct response to Jackson and Johnson's (2011) invitation to Black faculty—“African American, African born and second generation immigrant, and Caribbean… continue to investigate and reflect upon the experience of the Black professoriate” (p. 8-9). It illuminates the experiences of five Black/Afro-Caribbean women who have formed a supportive, professional network and contributes to the discourse about women, especially women of colour's experiences in the academy.

As Black/Afro-Caribbean women, who seek to make sense of our experiences as early career researchers, academics and intellectuals within and against the tensions of the landscape of the academy, we are aware that we are entering seldom explored, possibly unchartered waters. In our quest to define our academic identities and research agenda, we thus recognize the unitary, eurocentric and andro-centric construction of the intellectual and as such, remain inspired by Cynthia Dillard's “endarkened feminist epistemology” (Dillard, 2000) which “embod[ies] a distinguishable difference in cultural standpoint, located in the intersection/overlap of the culturally constructed socializations of race, gender, and other identities and the contemporary contexts of oppressions” (Dillard, 2000, p. 662) for women of colour. In embracing this theoretical standpoint, we articulate and support, not only alternative, open and pluralistic ways of knowledge production, but also promote an awareness of multiple realities and identities that shape our being and becoming early career academics.

We base this paper on our analysis of our narratives of experience as early career academics at universities within and outside of the Caribbean. We identify the critical junctures of our professional journeys, the commonalities of our understandings, and the puzzles, dilemmas, and tensions that we negotiated. We recognize that the nature and work of the Caribbean academic is largely shaped within the knowledge flows of globalization. We acknowledge the need, as Black/Afro-Caribbean intellectuals and academics, to promote a transformative and progressive understanding of practice that emerges out of the conditions of our lived experiences and is interrogated by and within the community practices which have sustained us.

Dillard, C. (2000). The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen: examining an endarkened feminisit epistemology in educational research and leadership. International Journal of Qualitative Stuides in Education, 13(6), 661—681.

Jackson, S. & Johnson III, R. (2011).  Introduction.  In S, Jackson, S. & R. Johnson III (Eds.), The Black Professoriat: Negotiating a habitable space in the academy (pp.1—13). New York: Peter Lang.