Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Pan-African Studies

Degree Program

Pan-African Studies, PhD

Committee Chair

Story, Kaila

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Caldwell, Anne

Committee Member

Caldwell, Anne

Committee Member

Jones, Ricky

Committee Member

Byrd, W. Carson

Author's Keywords

fraternities; higher education; institutionality; masculinity; queer of color critique; queer theory


Drawing heavily on Roderick Ferguson’s (2012) theory of institutionality, this dissertation constructs a counter-historical genealogy of racialized gender in higher education and U.S. society through the formation of black Greek-lettered fraternities. Ferguson argues that with the insurgence of minority resistance globally and domestically during the mid-twentieth century, hegemonic power took a new form. Instead of rejecting minority difference, power’s new network attempted to work through and with minority difference in an effort to absorb and restrict these radical formations within state, capital and academy frameworks—producing narrow or one-dimensional minority subjectivities. Established at the turn of the twentieth century, black Greek-lettered fraternities reflect the impetus and crossroads of power’s new archive as constituted through two competing yet complementing social movements—the racial uplift and the American fraternal movements—therefore, working within and against institutional normative logics of race, gender, sexuality, and class. As such, this study employs black fraternalism to reveal power’s post-WWII dynamics and its impact on black subjectivity within the academy and the broader U.S. political landscape, particularly in relation to black queer embodiment and politics. This study constitutes a queer of color critique. A queer of color critique centers the queer of color subject, and in doing so, exposes the often-obscured interconnected systems of race, gender, sexuality and class in cultural formations to map the contours of power propagated by state and capital forces. This study finds that as minority difference was institutionalized within the post-civil rights academy, black fraternalism was employed to facilitate and affirm institutional demands for equity and an idealized cis-heteropatriarchal black subjectivity, foreclosing on alternative gendered critical possibilities. As such, this study explores the development of black queer fraternal (BQF) formations, so-called deviant forms of black fraternalism that subvert its institutional masculine homosocial logics, to suggests a critical alternative black gender politics, freedom, memory, and normality.