Graduate Students Bringing Emotional Rigor to the Heart of Community-University Relations in Food Dignity
Food Dignity is an inter- and postdisciplinary action research project designed to support five communities’ efforts to build sustainable food systems, tell their stories, and create common ground between the collaborating campuses and communities. Food Dignity graduate students were intermediaries between more senior academic partners and community partners. This paper highlights graduate students’ encounters with academic supremacy, which refers to systemic inequalities and the material, ideological, and practical privileges afforded to forms of academic knowledge production. We build on Porter and Wechsler’s (2018) explanation of academic supremacy, which they define in another article in this issue, in order to highlight certain aspects that relate specifically to the graduate student experience. Using autoethnography, we describe the institutional ties, emotional experiences, relationships, and values that defined our intermediary status. This status and the support of community partners allowed us to explore ways in which academic supremacy influenced our work and strategies for dismantling academic supremacy. We detail the conflicting pressures from academic institutions and community partners and the role of social justice values in balancing these pressures; we review how academic researchers deal with difficult social problems in the research process and the potential to use emotion as a guide through these difficulties; finally, we posit praxis-from-the-heart as a strategy for using emotions rigorously and productively to combat academic supremacy.
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