I welcome our readers to the first issue of Volume 9 of Departures in Critical Qualitative Research (DCQR). In many ways, this issue is a continuation—both directly and indirectly—of our “Merit, Whiteness, and Privilege” special issue (DCQR 8.4). The special issue came about as a response to a controversial summer vis-à-vis inclusion, diversity, and nonwhite/minoritized representation in communication studies, the field that is my home. We received upward of 35 submissions for the issue, which was rigorously coedited by Amardo Rodriguez, Mohan J. Dutta, and Elizabeth F. Desnoyers-Colas. This was a substantial number of submissions given that I invited the three coeditors in the middle of the ongoing controversy, thereby making the length of time between the call for papers and the submission date less than three weeks. Although we were able to feature about half of the peer-reviewed essays that we received in DCQR 8.4, at the close of the review process, all three coeditors agreed that many of the contributions could potentially be published at a later date.
In order to stay with the momentum of the crucial conversations about merit and white privilege, I decided to run six more of those contributions in this issue (DCQR 9.1). Each essay was strengthened by another round of peer review. This issue has three distinct yet entwined segments. The first six essays address issues of merit, whiteness, and privilege, albeit with slight variations from the “Merit, Whiteness, and Privilege” special issue (DCQR 8.4). Steve Elers writes about his experience of being “othered” as an indigenous junior faculty member in higher education in New Zealand. Jade C. Huell relies on Cheryl I. Harris's notion of racialized property and bell hooks's concept of aesthetic inheritances to place merit and inheritance in conversation with each other in the aftermath of the 2019 inclusion controversy in communication studies. Marina Levina offers an account of how “white foreign/refugee” bodies are “othered” in US academe, poignantly noting, “Merit is about the power to say that some are enough and others are not.” Julie-Ann Scott provides a heart-wrenching autoethnographic account of the experience of a (her) white disabled body to denounce the “religion” of merit created by an ideology of whiteness that rejects all visible abnormal bodies (white or otherwise). Michael J. Steudeman offers reflections on his past publications in the field of rhetoric to identify how structures of whiteness influenced the shape and acceptance of his publications. In the final essay of this segment, Antonio Tomas De La Garza argues for “tactical essentialism” as a strategy to reconcile the double bind between the performance of whiteness and resistance to white supremacy in a white-majority university.
These essays are followed by the second part of our issue, which consists of two general-submission contributions. David F. Purnell uses an autoethnographic approach to reflect on the interconnectedness of place attachment, shame culture, and identity suicide (his conceptual terminology) in his previous experiences as a not-out/closeted gay man. In the next piece, Altheria Caldera, Sana Rizvi, Freyca Calderon-Berumen, and Monica Lugo provide an outstanding multilayered and multiauthored explication of the dynamics that prevail when women of color conduct critical qualitative research with women who share their identities.
The third and final segment of this issue consists of our first Critical Interventions (CI) forum of the year. Titled “Sanctuary, Fugitivity, and Insurgent Models of Migrant Justice,” the forum is curated by Karma R. Chávez with editorial guidance from our CI editor, Jillian Ann Tullis. What does sanctuary mean and what can it mean? What are the promises or perils of sanctuary cities and sanctuary campuses that have emerged as a response to the war on undocumented immigrants and the Muslim ban spearheaded by President Donald Trump? What is the history of sanctuary movements in the United States? These and many other questions are answered by contributors to this remarkable and timely forum.
Even though this issue has three segments, I believe three key themes run through all the essays: resistance against bigoted ideologies; resiliencies that emerge and are performed as responses to tyranny; and transformations that occur in the coupling of resistance and resilience. Of course, these themes are one (my) way of synthesizing the issue for you, our reader. My hope is that you will find/read many other patterns and themes between and betwixt the essays showcased here.