Normalizing Whiteness on College Campuses

Chris Corces-Zimmerman


When problematizing issues of racial inequity and white supremacy on today’s college and university campuses, many situate the problem in the thoughts and actions of individual students, staff, faculty, or administrators. While certainly a part of the problem, this individual-level racism is often symptomatic of larger institutional-level sources of marginalization and oppression. In this study, I explore how a subset of Historically white Colleges (HwCs) communicates and normalizes an institutional culture of whiteness through the words and images presented in their promotional viewbook materials. Drawing from a framework within Critical whiteness Studies known as white Institutional Presence, this article implements a Critical Content Analysis of the visual and textual content of promotional viewbooks from five HwCs to explore how these institutions utilize their marketing materials to normalize whiteness at both individual and institutional levels. Findings from the analysis include (a) Students of Color as over-represented but peripheral, (b) the conditions of whiteness, and (c) the impacts of white expectations.


Whiteness; Race; White supremacy; Higher education

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