Conference on College Composition and Communication, November 2022
his statement is a response to several recent and historical exigencies that have demonstrated a need for a broader conversation about citation justice in rhetoric, composition, and writing studies. Scholars in the discipline and beyond have documented how the works of minoritized scholars are all too frequently excluded, invisibilized, or even co-opted in dominant normative citation practices (Chakravartty et al.; Kynard; Pritchard; Walton, Moore, & Jones; Peña), and professional whisper networks have long told stories of graduate students—oftentimes BIPOC graduate students—having their work plagiarized by tenure-track professors.
With these issues in mind, this statement aims to contribute to ongoing efforts to redress long-standing inequities in the field of rhetoric, composition, and writing studies, which has systemically devalued and overlooked the knowledges of minoritized scholars (Kynard; Parks et al.; Pritchard; Royster). One location where these inequities are often reproduced is in our citation practices, which can alternately legitimate and denigrate various epistemologies, and contribute to the continued minoritization of BIPOC and other multiply marginalized scholars. Citation, then, is political, and can be a tool both for maintaining white supremacy and for advancing racial justice.
Citation is an act of “disciplinary landscaping,” to echo Jacqueline Jones Royster’s language. Royster teaches us to consider how citation practices contribute to our disciplinary landscape, how citations are arguments about whose knowledges are credible and worth learning from. Royster explains, “Highlighting landscaping as an interpretive process underscores the extent to which interpretive enterprises are contingent more generally on perception and more specifically on the limitations of perception” (148). These limits of perception also affect our citation practices, which go on to impact field perceptions of expertise, and relatedly, how minoritized scholars are promoted and tenured (or not), alongside other material outcomes, described further below. Thus, instead of engaging in what Eric Darnell Pritchard has theorized as “literacy normativity,” we must be open to learning from “restorative literacies” that are rooted in the diverse methods of Black LGBTQ people.
This position statement aims to encourage scholars to engage in citation justice in all areas of scholarly production, with the specific goals of:
- redressing citational erasures and exclusions in the literatures of our discipline,
- considering the material impacts of citation for minoritized communities and knowledges, and
- working toward a more just and inclusive disciplinary body of knowledge and academic community.
To do so, we discuss the role of citation in our work as rhetoric, composition, and writing studies teacher-scholars before going on to frame citation as an equity issue. We then discuss systematic and cultural factors of academic workplaces that contribute to citation inequity and thus require redress. This statement closes with a heuristic for practicing citation justice and resources for further engaging this important issue.