Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Southern Studies

Department

Southern Studies

First Advisor

Darren Grem

Second Advisor

Simone Delerme

Third Advisor

Jodi Skipper

Relational Format

dissertation/thesis

Abstract

At the University of Mississippi, despite institutional efforts to distance the present from the past, issues of race continue to influence the campus and the experiences of African-American students. This thesis examines the relationship between the physical structure of the university of Mississippi campus and African American students, and investigates the creation of "counter-publics." this thesis analyzes works in critical race theory, higher education, and social geography to argue that the "whiteness" of the university of Mississippi campus creates social and educational barriers for African American students. Furthermore, along with being surrounded by "whiteness," African American students lack any physical representation of their own. As a result, these students must create their own safe spaces, or "counter-publics." with this theory as the framework, this thesis uses a qualitative method, conducting 11 interviews with African American students and alumni to explore the phenomenon of "counter-publics" at the University of Mississippi. Collectively, these interviews speak to the black student experience at the University of Mississippi; from awareness to the racial climate to experiencing the racial prejudices to finding and creating "black spaces" for themselves. Ultimately, this thesis argues these black "counter-places" prove problematic for while they do support the needs of African American students they are disconnected from the rest of the university, and therefore, black students remain visitors on their own campuses. Keywords: counter-publics, counter-spaces, black space, higher education, African American students, University of Mississippi.

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