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African American Faculty and Senior Staff Oral History Project

About the Project
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In Memoriam

Troy Duster Transcript

Conducted by Richard C├índida Smith and Nadine Wilmot in 2002-2003, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2012.


Photo of Troy Duster

Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Chancellor's Professor Troy Duster came to Berkeley in 1967 from UC Riverside, just on the heels of Berkeley's Free Speech Movement and in advance of the Third World Strike. At Berkeley, Duster played a central role in leading curricular innovation and in building structures to promote and sustain diversity among faculty and students on campus. He consulted closely with University and student leadership to work through major political struggles on campus, including the Third World Strike and the development of the American Cultures requirement, of which he was a Director. He served as Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change and principal investigator for Berkeley's Diversity Project. Professor Duster's research and writing ranges across the sociology of law, deviance, knowledge, inequality, race, science, and education, and is bound by the common thread of interrogating the normative frames that create and organize taxonomies of information and power. Duster's contributions to the area of biogenetic research are critical in shaping scientific inquiry around race, ethnicity, and genetics.

Professor Duster brings to this oral history both his very human lived experiences combined with his analytic frame as a sociologist and scholar. In this interview Duster situates his own life and trajectory, and that of his generation, against a backdrop of social transformation that reaches from the pre-Civil Rights era to our present moment as we entertain the notion of a post racial society. This interview reveals his acute clarity about the anatomy of structural inequality and institutional discrimination, what these are made of and how they function, and the potential for strategic interventions. Professor Duster fought hard and creatively to increase access for minorities and women at UC Berkeley. Significant themes of this oral history are: a perspective on the University of California's institutional history from the vantage point of someone who worked for change from within the administration, a perspective on how and why affirmative action policies and programs were built and dismantled, gender and racial discrimination and academic culture, and curricular transformation catalyzed by the social movements of the 1960's.

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