Black Feminist Thought and the Gender, Women's, and Feminist Studies PhD: A Roundtable Discussion

Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin, Moya Bailey, Karen Flynn, Bettina Judd, Ayana K. Weekley, Jennifer Musial, Melissa Autumn White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based on a roundtable discussion convened at the 2017 National Women's Studies Association (NWSA) annual conference, "Forty Years After Combahee," this discussion addresses the fraught relationship between Black feminist thought and doctoral training in gender, women's, and feminist studies (GWFS). While intersectionality is nearly ubiquitously claimed as central to training in GWFS PhD programs, its institutionalization can serve to defang and dehistoricize the centrality of Black feminisms and womanisms, as well as marginalize, exclude, and/or fetishize Black feminists training and teaching in such programs. Participants critically examine the ongoing realities of a white-centric canon, the disingenuous and racialized division of academia and community activism, struggles for Black-affirming spaces, anti-Black peer microaggressions, white fragility, and lack of mentorship, isolation, and "pushout." The authors reflect on their experiences transitioning from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and non-HBCU undergraduate programs to GWFS PhD programs and post-PhD faculty life; the importance of mentorship and community-building; Black intellectual and embodied navigations of institutional structures under white supremacy; racialized affective labor; and the place of GWFS PhD training in the futures of Black feminist thought and field (re)formation. The resulting written collaboration serves as part wake-up call, part warning, and part "truth telling" about the realities of being a Black woman intellectual navigating GWFS PhD training and post-PhD faculty life.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-28
JournalFeminist Formations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Black feminist thought
  • women’s studies field formation
  • women’s, gender, and sexuality studies
  • women’s and gender studies
  • women of color feminisms
  • National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)
  • gender, women’s and feminist studies (GWFS) PhD


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