Statement of Support for Dr. Mary Rambaran-Olm

At the recent Race before Race symposium in Washington, DC, Dr. Mary Rambaran-Olm ended her powerful talk on periodization and early English studies with a statement that she is resigning from her position on the board of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists (ISAS). Medievalists of Color (MOC) wholeheartedly supports Dr. Rambaran-Olm’s courageous action.

Dr. Rambaran-Olm has worked tirelessly for years – as an independent scholar without institutional support of her own – to dismantle the deeply entrenched and pervasive white supremacy of early English studies in her field and from within ISAS. She performed this labor despite her vulnerability as a woman of color in an organization so dominated by whiteness that it has not yet ceased referring to itself by a name that attracts and empowers white supremacists. White supremacists have threatened Dr. Rambaran-Olm with bodily harm in response to her recent talk, and we must ask how ISAS’s attachment to whiteness fueled that threat.

Dr. Rambaran-Olm’s willingness to endure the heavy intellectual and emotional toll exacted by ISAS’s environment testifies to her longstanding and brave commitment to inclusivity and community in that organization. But ultimately, as Sara Ahmed teaches us, “We learn about the techniques of power from our efforts to transform institutional norms.” Dr. Rambaran-Olm’s resignation is a principled act that results from her informed judgment that meaningful change in the organization and the field will not be possible from within ISAS. We honor and trust her assessment of that situation.

We thank Dr. Rambaran-Olm for both her valuable contributions to early English scholarship and her heroic efforts to amplify marginalized voices in that field.

Members of Medievalists of Color 

Steering Committee:
Jonathan Hsy, George Washington University
Cord Whitaker, Wellesley College
Dorothy Kim, Brandeis University
Seeta Chaganti, University of California, Davis 
Adam Miyashiro, Stockton University

Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh, University of California, Berkeley
Sierra Lomuto, Macalester College
Barbara Bordalejo, University of Saskatchewan
Nahir I. Otaño Gracia, University of New Mexico
Michelle M. Sauer, University of North Dakota
Alexa Alice Joubin, George Washington University
Carissa M. Harris, Temple University
Eduardo Ramos, Penn State
Jonathan F. Correa-Reyes, The Pennsylvania State University
Kristina Richardson, Queens College, City University of New York 
Wan-Chuan Kao, Washington and Lee University
Shela Raman McCabe, University of Notre Dame
Joshua S. Easterling, Murray State University 
Elise Wang, Duke University
Leah Shopkow, Indiana University
Carla María Thomas, Florida Atlantic University
Mariah Min, University of Pennsylvania
Nicole Lopez-Jantzen, Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York
Valerie M Wilhite
Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, punctum books
Eileen McKiernan González, Berea College
Uta A Ayala, Northwestern University
Shyama Rajendran, Krea University
Elizabeth Watkins, Loyola University New Orleans
Sherif Abdelkarim, Grinnell College
Chelsea Shields-Más, SUNY College at Old Westbury 
Susan Nakley, St. Joseph’s College, NY
Geraldine Heng, University of Texas at Austin
Rebeca (B.) Orellana, University of Colorado-Boulder
Adam Benkato, University of California, Berkeley
Amrita Dhar, The Ohio State University

Co-signatories from Race before Race (RB4R)

Ayanna Thompson, Arizona State University
Kim F. Hall, Barnard College
Noémie Ndiaye, University of Chicago
Patricia Akhimie, Rutgers University-Newark
Urvashi Chakravarty, University of Toronto