In Dialogue with Dr. Rasul Mowatt and Dr. Davarian L. Baldwin on the History and Import of Black Studies


A young Black man and woman in profile against a purple background representing ongoing conversation around Black studies.

TIE‘s inaugural “In Dialogue” feature, centering an enlightening discussion on the history and impact of Black studies, is now available as an audio podcast. In the episode, listeners will hear Dr. Rasul Mowatt, head of the department of parks, recreation, and tourism management at North Carolina State University, and Dr. Davarian L. Baldwin, Trinity College’s Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, discuss the recent attacks on AP African American studies. They contextualize these attacks within the legacy of Black studies in the United States and speak more about how scholars and librarians can work to counter these attacks while also supporting vulnerable communities on campus.

Listen to the full conversation below:

TIE Podcast · In Dialogue with Rasul Mowatt and Davarian Baldwin on the History and Import of Black Studies

Dr. Baldwin and Dr. Mowatt have both been previous guests on individual episodes of TIE‘s podcast and we are thrilled to have them return to engage in this informative new podcast dialogue.

Here is a quick peek inside the episode:

On understanding the origins of Black studies:

“Black studies from its inception understood that we’re talking about struggles over power that are intellectual, that are political, that are economic, and that are spatial. It’s about reimagining a different relationship between ourselves and the world and that part of Black studies has been siphoned off to just simply be an attempt to just simply diversify classes and curriculum … And so that’s important, I think, for us to introduce or to reintegrate that context to what Black studies originally was at its inception … In Durham, North Carolina, [for instance,] students frustrated with Duke attempt[ed] to build their own independent school. The [Institute of] the Black World in Atlanta [was formed because people] were frustrated with the limitations of Black colleges.” 

  • Dr. Davarian L. Baldwin

“Black studies is probably one of three intellectual traditions that have had this political origin that has situated itself in the academic space but is not about the academic space. So in the United States, yes we have Black studies at San Francisco State even though before that there [were] always these independent courses at a range of places … But then before that you had cultural studies at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom that was all [about] this critique of the ways in which, especially in England at the time … there was this oppression on both the white working class but also the immigrant Black populations from the Caribbean and Africa, and so they were trying to look at the ways in which the elites were trying to use culture to reeducate people to prefer elite culture as opposed to these alternative cultures … And then before that you had critical theory, not critical race theory, critical theory in Frankfurt in Germany. And of course we know during the time period [those scholars] were under pressure due to the rise of the Nazi Party and so they eventually had to leave [Germany]. But these are the three academic-based traditions that were exceptionally threatening and required people to find ways both on campus and off campus to not only organize themselves intellectually but do something with their intellectual development. I want to connect Black studies to that lineage … [In fact,] in one particular case, you have Herbert Marcuse [of the Frankfurt School] who ends up being one of the lead mentors for Angela Davis.”

  • Dr. Rasul Mowatt

Watch the full video recording of the interview here:

Listen to Davarian’s episode on how universities exacerbate inequities in urban living.

Listen to Rasul’s episode on applying social justice principles to leisure studies.

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Interested in contributing to TIE? Send an email to Deb V. at Choice with your topic idea.

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