“The thing behind the thing”: White supremacy and interdisciplinary faculty in schools of nursing

Karen C. Flynn, Susan M. Reverby, Kylie M. Smith, Dominique Tobbell

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


In “An eye toward the future: Pressing questions for our discipline in today's academic and research climate,” authors Donna Algase et al. expressed concerns about an increasing habit of employing interdisciplinary scholars (whom they call NNFs or non-nursing faculty) on tenure tracks in “highly ranked” Schools of Nursing (SONs). Central to their argument is that the continued introduction of interdisciplinary scholars in nursing schools as tenured faculty will compromise nursing as a discipline. As historians of nursing, two with tenure in schools of nursing and two who are or have been tenured elsewhere, we take issue with and object to the authors’ arguments. Not only are the arguments presented ahistorical (the result of not engaging deeply enough with nursing's own history), they also reinforce (inadvertently or otherwise) a long held objective in the professionalization of modern nursing which is to develop the discipline as a white middle class women's epistemological and ontological project. By insisting that “nursing science” is a concise, static, “essential” thing, that should be protected from “outsiders,” the authors obfuscate through unspoken norms of whiteness that what is being protected here, is white privilege, white knowledge, white access to power, and ultimately white supremacy.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-504
Number of pages3
JournalNursing Outlook
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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