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ENGL 1010 - Holt

Citation is Political

The Politics of Citation is a concept that calls attention to inequities in citation practices. Academia has a long history with intellectual gatekeeping. Institutions of higher education in the United States still employ a predominantly white male faculty population resulting in white male dominated research production favoring Anglo- and Euro-centric systems of knowledge.

Women are cited less on average than research authored by men. If a women co-authors with a man, the paper has a higher chance of being cited. 

People of Global Majority (people that have been racialized in white imperialist contexts as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) are less cited than their white colleagues.

Well-cited scholars gain authority because they are well-cited. However, well-cited does not equate to quality, especially at the expense of those less-cited.

Language adapted from Dawn Stahura's LibGuide, "ACT UP - Evaluation Method"

Break the Citation Cycle

Practice citation counting: literally count how many women, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are included in your references. Count how many nontraditional sources you cited. Google the authors to see who they are if you need to. Don't make assumptions about gender. Do your research.

Push against narrow definitions of academic scholarship that are exclusive, misogynistic and racist. Just because someone's work has not been heavily cited, does not mean it does not have value. Strive to towards citation politics that are feminist and anti-racist.

There are different kinds of authority. Consider the context in which you are writing and determine what kind of expert you need. For example, when might a government site not be as reliable as a personal narrative?

There are more contributors to research than just the author(s). Take a critical look at the methodology section to see who contributed and who didn't.

Language adapted from Dawn Stahura's LibGuide, "ACT UP - Evaluation Method"

Re-examining and Dismantling Authority

Movements & Teaching Tools

Further Reading

Ahmed, Sara. “Making Feminist Points." feministkilljoys. September 11, 2013. 

Delgado, Richard. “The Imperial Scholar: Reflections on a Review of Civil Rights Literature.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 132, no. 3 (1984): 561–78. 

Kim, Annabel L. “The Politics of Citation.” Diacritics 48, no. 3 (2020): 4–9. (* intro to special issue on the topic*)

McKittrick, Katherine. "Footnotes (Books and Papers Scattered about the Floor)," in Dear Science and Other Stories, pp. 14-34. Durham: Duke University Press, 2021. Click here for ebook link via Tulane University Libraries.

Ray, Victor. "The Racial Politics of Citation." Inside Higher Ed. April 26, 2018.

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