Christien Philmarc Tompkins

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Rutgers U.

Grant number

Gr. 10191

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Tompkins, Christien (Rutgers U.) "Reconstructing Race: The Experimental Labor of New Orleans Education Reform "

In Post-Katrina New Orleans, the unprecedented conversion of ninety-percent of district schools into privately managed charter schools has served as a fertile site for debates and struggles over neoliberalism, racial justice, and reform. Reconstructing Race: The Experimental Labor of New Orleans Education Reform, is based on sixteen months of ethnographic fieldwork and over fifty interviews with education entrepreneurs, teachers, and employees at charter management organizations and non-profits. Reconstructing Race finds that New Orleans’ citywide experimentation with private management has led to the proliferation and professionalization of racial knowledge as not only culture or identity, but as technical expertise. Reconstructing Race draws on ethnographies of race as performance and the workplace as a site of subject formation to claim that race is a phenomenon under constant revision in the new forms of education work unfolding in New Orleans. Rather than use experiment as either epithet or praise, I employ theories of experiment from Science and Technology Studies as well as studies of expertise to contemplate charter-based reform as a site of professionalized knowledge production. By theorizing educators as both workers and experts, we can apprehend how charter-based reform is creating sites for the production of race as a kind of techno-political craft.