by Ashon Crawley

About Ashon Crawley

Ashon Crawley is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (2016).


The university is a collective space of learning beyond compulsory education, a collectivity of faculty and students working together with the purpose and aim of producing and disseminating knowledge. This means that the university, with the power to produce and grant degrees, is a site of struggle and contestation precisely because it is a site of power to confer or withhold. The university is a site that makes claims about knowledge and its acquisition, knowledge and its production, knowledge and its dissemination. By the thirteenth century, this term referred to the work of scholars and faculty together to receive instruction generally. The university is a space designated for thought, in other words, but such thought is not neutral; such universality emerges through exclusion. It is an exclusion that is made possible through difference and differentiation—­of gendered, raced, sexed difference—­being carried in the flesh that produces a crisis of meaning for the university as a neutral zone and territory of knowledge production.