"Coming to the Community-University Interface: Insurgent Methods for Extraordinary Times" (article)

Article planned for special issue of constellations: a cultural rhetorics publishing space. Article has been accepted with revisions.

đź”— CCCC 2023 Talk (early version of this article)

In this article, I outline a concept I term the Community-University Interface, using a cultural rhetorics methodology to story a tripartite framework for performing the hopeful, insurgent work of writing and rhetoric in community settings. In so doing, I extend J. Estrella Torrez’s system of university-sponsored community work through the use of responsibility, reciprocity, and respect (RRR). As a cultural rhetorics framework derived from five years of community organizing around queer, Latinx, and Indigenous health and cultural issues in the Midwest, I articulate the actionable potential of the coalitional literacies underpinning RRR (Licona & Chávez, 2015).

The complex wicked problems of settler colonialism emerge as contextually discrete impediments for marginalized peoples, which likewise requires a deft maneuvering of the settler colonial technologies at play within universities (paperson, 2017). That said, cultural rhetoricians have shown that rhetorics are cultural and vice versa, using this seemingly simple conceit to dispel the colonial mythos of an uncritical, objective researcherly vantage that can only exist to extract (Riley-Mukavetz, 2014). Indeed, proceeding from the notion that "rhetoric is cultural, culture is rhetorical, and both are a practice" (Cultural Rhetorics Theory Lab, n.d.), I argue that we might better understand the practice of community work as imbricated within colonial systems, which require commensurate anticolonial intention. Initiating such action, however, requires a savvy approach to being a double agent of the university, "promoting community-based action that targets the demise of colonial interference within our lives and communities” (Gaudry, 2011, p. 114).

Through three interlinked stories, I render strategies for activist and organizing work and offer a critical framework grounded in RRR, combining the practical repertoire of writing and rhetoric know-how while revealing means of funneling university resources into community spaces while protecting community knowledges and perspectives.