Ana Maria Candela

Ana Maria Candela

Overview

* Assistant Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University
* Supporter of former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers
* Supporter of Barack Obama
* Advocates the use of “progressive stacking,” a practice that prioritizes input from nonwhite students during classroom discussions


Ana Maria Candela is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in upstate New York. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies in 1997, and a Master’s degree in History in 2003, both from the College of Charleston (in South Carolina). She then attended the University of Oregon from 2003-2006 to pursue a Ph.D. in History. While at Oregon, Candela served as a Teaching Assistant for courses such as “Ancient and Medieval World History,” “History of Western Civilization,” “History of Modern Latin America,” “History of Modern China,” and “United States History, 20th Century.” She spent the summer of 2004 at Beijing’s Qinghua University, where she participated in an Intensive Chinese Language Training program.

According to her curriculum vitae, Candela decided to transfer to the University of California at Santa Cruz when her major advisor retired while Candela was still a student at Oregon in 2006. She subsequently spent the 2007-2008 school year in an Intensive Chinese Language Training program at the Mandarin Training Center located at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei.

As a Ph.D. candidate at UC Santa Cruz, Candela specialized in the study of “Chinese Overseas,” “Nationalism,” “Nation-State Making,” and “Asia Pacific.” Her primary teaching field was 20th Century China, and her Ph.D. dissertation was entitled, “Nation, Migration and Governance: Cantonese Migrations to Peru and the Making of Chinese Overseas Nationalism, 1850-2012.”

In October 2008, Candela joined thousands of other college students and faculty members in expressing support for Bill Ayers — the former leader of the domestic terrorist Weather Underground Organization. At the time, Ayers was a professor in Illinois who had attracted extra scrutiny for his ties to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. Candela and the others signed a statement to “oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers.”

Candela completed her Ph.D. in History at UC Santa Cruz in 2013.

In 2014, Candela became an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University. She drew national attention in February 2022 when a report emerged about her “Social Change – Introduction to Sociology” course syllabus, which explicitly stated that remarks by “non-white folks” and women would be given priority over those of white males in classroom discussions. According to the syllabus, Candela referred to her method as “progressive stacking”:

“It . . . means that if you are white, male, or someone privileged by the racial and gender structures of our society to have your voice easily voiced and heard, we will often ask you to hold off on your questions or comments to give others priority and will come back to you a bit later or at another time. Our experience with this practice is that within little time, those who feel most privileged to speak begin to take the initiative to hold space for others who feel less comfortable speaking first, while those who tend to be more silenced in our society grow more comfortable speaking. As you can imagine, it has tremendous benefits for our society as a whole when we learn to listen to others whose voices are typically disregarded and silenced.”

The “Class Discussion Guidelines” section of the syllabus began with a quote from the late Chinese Communist Dictator and mass murderer Mao Zedong: “No investigation, no right to speak.” Gaining inspiration from Mao, Candela wrote that her “progressive stacking” policy “helps to convey the idea that speaking, during class discussions, should be based on having done your investigative work.”

One Binghamton student filed a Title IX complaint against Candela for her discriminatory classroom-discussion policy. Under pressure from the University, Candela eventually removed the reference to “progressive stacking” from her course syllabus. Nonetheless, she adamantly defended her use of the practice:

“When [progressive stacking] works really well, as I have seen in my classes during the last couple of years, students with greater privilege and power in the classroom learn to self-reflect on the ways in which they tend to hegemonize the conversation and learn to respectfully wait and give others priority. . . . This requires creating the conditions for self-reflection, and that means naming the structures of power at the beginning of the semester and on the syllabus so that when I ask students to hold off, over and over, they start to get it because they make the connection to the forms of power they might embody, frequently whiteness and/or masculinity.”

Candela also issued the following written statement to further explain her position and motivations:

“Progressive stacking as a practice aims to allow for greater incorporation of diverse voices and perspectives into the conversation. It is not, in any way, intended or used to deny anyone the right to speak on the basis of race, class or gender. Given concerns regarding the wording of the progressive stacking statement on the [Sociology 100: Social Change: Intro to Sociology] syllabus, I have removed it so as to ensure no one feels discriminated against as that is not at all what takes place in the classroom in practice.”

Although Candela remained employed by Binghamton University (BU) in the aftermath of the aforementioned controversy, her official faculty biography was removed from the BU website in order to hide her contact information — chiefly because of Candela’s claim that she and some of her colleagues in the Departments of Sociology and Latin American & Caribbean Studies had received hateful and threatening messages in response to reports about Candela’s “progressive stacking” policy.

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