Race and Historiography: Advancing a Critical-Realist Approach

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Abstract

This scholarly essay interrogates the seemingly necessary engagement of normative and essentialist characterizations of identity in the historical study of race in U.S. higher education. The author’s study of the experiences of Black collegians in private, liberal arts colleges in the Midwestern Great Lakes region between 1945 and 1965 grounds this discussion. Although engaging racial essentialism is necessary, the author presents alternative treatments of historicizing race to illustrate the benefits of a critical-realist approach to producing a synthetic cultural educational history.

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