Books for changing the world
Community as Rebellion
A Syllabus for Surviving Academia as a Woman of Color

A meditation on freedom-making in the academy for women scholars of color.

An inspiring personal testimonial woven with political analysis, Community as Rebellion offers a meditation on the possibilities of creating spaces of freedom within the university for students and faculty of color who often experience violence and unbelonging due to the colonizing, racializing, classist, and unequal structures that sustain academia and the university.

Sharing stories, personal reflections, and experiences, the author invites readers—in particular Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian women—to engage in liberatory practices of boycott and abolition, in contrast with the university’s tokenizing and exploitative structures that shape our experiences in the academy, and hinder our possibilities of survival and success. Paired with radical community building, these practices are necessary for survival and critical for fighting back against a system that destroys us. One key site of freedom-making in the university is the classroom. Meditating on teaching ethnic studies, the author invites teachers to think about activism and social justice as central to what she calls “teaching in freedom,” a progressive form of collective learning that prioritizes subjugated knowledge, silenced histories, and the epistemologies that come from the Global South and from Indigenous, Black, and brown communities. By teaching in and for freedom we not only acknowledge the harm that the university has inflicted on our persons and our ways of knowing since its inception, but also create alternative ways to be, to create, to live, and to succeed through our work.

  • Community as Rebellion is a must read for anyone serious about confronting institutional racism, sexism, and elitism. Lorgia García Peña, one of her generation's most brilliant scholar-activists, challenges us to confront academia as a ‘colonial and colonizing’ space as the first step toward resistance and transformation. Her own experiences undergird her analysis and serve as a powerful call to action.” —Barbara Ransby, author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision

    “Unflinching, brilliant, and absolutely necessary. In these pages, Lorgia García Peña shares her experiences—and others’—to reflect on what it means to be ‘the stranger’ in academia: that sole symbol for diversity that still remains an outsider. Unwavering in its clarity and compassion, this powerful book reminds us that true belonging comes from actively building communities unafraid to center care and rebellion. Everyone should read this.” —Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King, shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize

    "‘What does it mean to teach for freedom?’ Dr. García Peña asks and boldly beckons us toward its practice across the policed borders of discipline, nation, theoretical traditions, and entrenched racial categories. A capacious thinker, rigorous researcher, brilliant activist, and path-breaking scholar, Dr. García Peña calls on us not simply, as she writes, to ‘mind the historical gaps’ for long-subjugated stories but alerts us to the ways these gaps have been historically mined in extractive ways in the service of colonial projects and neoliberal calls for diversity. Her astonishing work gathers us under its broad canopy to plot and persevere toward communal rebellion and renewal.” —Deborah Paredez, Columbia University

    “With characteristic clarity, courage, and conviction, Lorgia García Peña draws on her remarkable history as an engaged scholar and committed activist to demonstrate the necessity of living in community and accompanying others as keys to both personal liberation and social transformation.” —George Lipsitz, author of The Possessive Investment in Whiteness

    "Community as Rebellion is partly an incisive and deeply personal expose of the neoliberal university and its racializing and patriarchal practices of denigrating women of color scholars while extracting their intellectual, administrative, and emotional labor. But it is, above all, a mandate to transform higher education that begins with recognizing our mutual obligations to each other and to the world we study, extending 'community' beyond the ivory tower, and co-creating with our students new, autonomous intellectual spaces. Lorgia García Peña wrote this book not from a dream or an abstract theory but from building rebel communities for over a decade. She knows that there can be no free education without freedom."Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

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