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We Demand: The University and Student Protests

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“Puts campus activism in a radical historic context.”—New York Review of Books In the post–World War II period, students rebelled against the university establishment. In student-led movements, women, minorities, immigrants, and indigenous people demanded that universities adapt to better serve the increasingly heterogeneous public and student bodies. The success of these “Puts campus activism in a radical historic context.”—New York Review of Books In the post–World War II period, students rebelled against the university establishment. In student-led movements, women, minorities, immigrants, and indigenous people demanded that universities adapt to better serve the increasingly heterogeneous public and student bodies. The success of these movements had a profound impact on the intellectual landscape of the twentieth century: out of these efforts were born ethnic studies, women’s studies, and American studies.   In We Demand, Roderick A. Ferguson demonstrates that less than fifty years since this pivotal shift in the academy, the university is moving away from “the people” in all their diversity. Today the university is refortifying its commitment to the defense of the status quo off campus and the regulation of students, faculty, and staff on campus. The progressive forms of knowledge that the student-led movements demanded and helped to produce are being attacked on every front. Not only is this a reactionary move against the social advances since the ’60s and ’70s—it is part of the larger threat of anti-intellectualism in the United States. 


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“Puts campus activism in a radical historic context.”—New York Review of Books In the post–World War II period, students rebelled against the university establishment. In student-led movements, women, minorities, immigrants, and indigenous people demanded that universities adapt to better serve the increasingly heterogeneous public and student bodies. The success of these “Puts campus activism in a radical historic context.”—New York Review of Books In the post–World War II period, students rebelled against the university establishment. In student-led movements, women, minorities, immigrants, and indigenous people demanded that universities adapt to better serve the increasingly heterogeneous public and student bodies. The success of these movements had a profound impact on the intellectual landscape of the twentieth century: out of these efforts were born ethnic studies, women’s studies, and American studies.   In We Demand, Roderick A. Ferguson demonstrates that less than fifty years since this pivotal shift in the academy, the university is moving away from “the people” in all their diversity. Today the university is refortifying its commitment to the defense of the status quo off campus and the regulation of students, faculty, and staff on campus. The progressive forms of knowledge that the student-led movements demanded and helped to produce are being attacked on every front. Not only is this a reactionary move against the social advances since the ’60s and ’70s—it is part of the larger threat of anti-intellectualism in the United States. 

30 review for We Demand: The University and Student Protests

  1. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Ferguson has written a succinct (about 100 pages of main text) but elegant and useful primer on the university and student movements from the perspective of American Studies research and scholarship. Drawing from his own larger research project (e.g., his The Reorder of Things) as well as the work of scholars like Jodi Melamed, Craig Steven Wilder, Sarah Ahmed, and Lisa Duggan, as well as the figures associated with Critical University Studies (Chris Newfield, Marc Bousquet, Sheila Slaughter and Ferguson has written a succinct (about 100 pages of main text) but elegant and useful primer on the university and student movements from the perspective of American Studies research and scholarship. Drawing from his own larger research project (e.g., his The Reorder of Things) as well as the work of scholars like Jodi Melamed, Craig Steven Wilder, Sarah Ahmed, and Lisa Duggan, as well as the figures associated with Critical University Studies (Chris Newfield, Marc Bousquet, Sheila Slaughter and Larry Leslie,) Ferguson argues that the university is a central battleground of social struggles and that those struggles have both transformed the contours of contemporary relations of force (in victory and defeat, for better and for worse,) and have much to offer activists and radicals in the contemporary moment. I think this will be a really valuable text for teaching American Studies and the history of Universities and student movements to undergraduates. As a historian of university labor and an American Studies scholar, I found Ferguson's book helpful myself for its generous but rigorous approach to contemporary and historical student struggles and the kinds of knowledge they made and make possible.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Darcysmom

    I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review. Roderick A. Ferguson has presented a history of protest on college campuses that is both scholarly and accessible. We Demand should be required reading for all activists on college campuses. I especially liked the emphasis on minoritized groups working together. The last section of the book was my favorite - the suggestions for successful activism were thoughtful and thought provoking. I will be recommending I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review. Roderick A. Ferguson has presented a history of protest on college campuses that is both scholarly and accessible. We Demand should be required reading for all activists on college campuses. I especially liked the emphasis on minoritized groups working together. The last section of the book was my favorite - the suggestions for successful activism were thoughtful and thought provoking. I will be recommending this book to all my colleagues in higher education.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Sundarsingh

    I liked Ferguson's point: the academy has been built away from minoritized groups, and their fight for inclusion through protest has been and is a hard one. I don't know that he spends as much of the 100 pages building the argument in his own words instead of through stitching others' theories together, but it's a hard thing to be this concise, so it's forgivable in parts.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul Eaton

    This is not Ferguson’s best book. But, it is accessible and might be a good introductory text for those unfamiliar with the oeuvre of Ferguson’s intellectual prowess. That said, the conclusion is EXCELLENT, and should be read by all progressive, radical scholars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Leonard

    Timely and essential

  6. 4 out of 5

    Quinn

  7. 5 out of 5

    Every Last Thing

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angie

  9. 4 out of 5

    Irene

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Dieter

  11. 4 out of 5

    Danny

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diane Strain

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cole Jackson

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maya Cohen

  16. 5 out of 5

    LauraCR

  17. 4 out of 5

    Miho Carey

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie Johnson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samira

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chase

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annie Cheng

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Hatrick

  24. 4 out of 5

    Zac

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessi

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jess

  27. 4 out of 5

    Graham Slater

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Raminha

  30. 5 out of 5

    Fra692

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