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CornellA History, 1940-2015$
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Glenn C. Altschuler and Isaac Kramnick

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801444258

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801444258.001.0001

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Academic Identity Politics

Academic Identity Politics

Chapter:
(p.285) 8 Academic Identity Politics
Source:
Cornell
Author(s):

Glenn C. Altschuler

Isaac Kramnick

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801444258.003.0008

This chapter examines how the issue of ethnic studies at Cornell University evolved into a component of what came to be known as “multiculturalism” or “identity politics.” It considers how Cornell responded to students' requests for various ethnic studies programs. It shows that identity politics became a fact of life at Cornell during the tenure of Frank H. T. Rhodes; ethnic studies programs proliferated and “black” residence halls and affirmative action were hotly debated. Partisans of identity politics, who viewed themselves as victims of oppression, demanded opportunities to learn about and celebrate their history and heritage, and safe, secure, and separate spaces for members of their group. In time, their numbers included African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, women, and gays, as well as some “white ethnics” (including Jewish, Irish, and Italian Americans). This chapter also discusses the attitudes of students toward identity politics, along with the existence of racial tension on campus.

Keywords:   ethnic studies, Cornell University, multiculturalism, identity politics, students, Frank H. T. Rhodes, affirmative action, African Americans, gays, racial tension

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