* Associate professor of Literature and African American Studies at Duke University
* Supporter of the Ebonics movement
* Says she is “at the mercy of racist, sexist, heterosexist, and global capitalist constructions of the meaning of skin color on a daily basis”
* Alleges that America’s “prison economy” disproportionately targets black males
* Was one of the “Group of 88” Duke professors who publicly supported a local black stripper who had falsely accused three white student-athletes of rape.
A tenured associate professor of Literature and African American Studies at Duke University, Wahneema Lubiano earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Howard University in 1979, and a Ph.D. in Literature from Stanford University in 1987. She taught at Williams College in the spring of 1987; at the University of Texas at Austin from 1987-1990; at Princeton University from 1990-1996; and at Duke from 1996 to the present.
Lubiano identifies her research interests as: “Black nationalist discourse; Black intellectual history; Racialized Discourses / Race Theory; Feminist Theory and Women’s Studies; Black American modern and postmodern fiction; Black American literary history and theory; Black American women writers; Whiteness Studies; Black American popular culture and film; [and] Queer Theory.”
Since earning her Ph.D., Lubiano has edited one book (which contained papers from high-profile black authors presented at a 1994 conference at Princeton) and has published no scholarly monographs. Her current record of scholarly publications is confined to essays, most of which have appeared as chapters in books edited by others. (In contrast to journal articles, book chapters usually are solicited and do not go through a peer-review process.)
Lubiano has labeled herself a “post-structuralist teacher-critic leftist.” Recurring themes from her work include:
In Lubiano’s view, “university intellectuals” work in “knowledge factories” that “produce engines of dominance.” She reasons, therefore, that “sabotage has to be the order of the day … a deliberate attempt on the part of the historically marginalized to reconstitute not simply particular curricula, but the academy itself.”
Considering herself entitled to use her job to advance her political agendas, Lubiano says: “Whether I’m thinking, teaching, or engaging in politics (including strategizing), I think that it is part of my privilege, my work, and my pleasure to insist that those three activities are not clearly demarcated.” This approach is justified, she writes, because “over the past 250 years, university scholars have created and legitimated the knowledge that has justified the particular oppression” she has devoted her career to exposing.
Blending pedagogy and activism, Lubiano has done the following:
Lubiano was one of the Group of 88 Duke professors who signed and published a full-page “listening statement” in the April 6, 2006 edition of the Duke Chronicle, in support of a local black stripper who had accused three white student-athletes of rape. Lubiano characterized the accused as “almost perfect offenders … the exemplars of the upper end of the class hierarchy, the politically dominant race and ethnicity, the dominant gender, the dominant sexuality, and the dominant social group on campus.” She promised to press forward “regardless of the ‘truth’ established in whatever period of time about the incident …”
The following month, Lubiano penned an op-ed for the News & Observer declaring that Duke needed immediately to begin “targeted teaching” to expose “the structures of racism and the not-so-hidden injuries of class entitlement in place at Duke and everywhere in this country, and without regard to banal and ordinary sexual harassment.” She added, “we don’t have to wait for working class or poorer students to be targeted by fraternity ‘theme’ parties or cross burnings on the quad or in dorm halls, or for sexual assaults to be attested by perfectly placed witnesses and indisputable evidence.”
This profile is derived largely from the article “Group Profile: Wahneema’s World,” written by KC Johnson and published by Durham-in-Wonderland on December 11, 2006.