CRToP: toward a critical race theory of power in higher education

Nolan L. Cabrera, Grant D. Batchelder, Yadira G. Oregon, Erica J. Zamora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Critical Race Theory (CRT) is one of the most common forms of racial analysis in educational research, and it is largely responsible for introducing racial power into higher education scholarship. Frequently, scholars in this area make mention of power, yet explicit definitions within this work remain elusive. The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it offers Lukes’ (2005/2021) three dimensions of power as a way of operationalizing Foucault’s theories of power/knowledge and domination in relation to CRT, and it explores how centering this power analysis potentially expands higher education racial analyses. It then takes insights generated CRT scholarship on student activism and the power dynamics around knowledge creation/dissemination to challenge some of the White normativity within Lukes’ theorizing. Ultimately, the synthesis generates the underlying concept, Critical Race Theory of Power (CRToP), which offers CRT a more nuanced understanding of how power is enacted in higher education space while also problematizing Lukes’ (2005/2021) contention that all power involves domination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalRace Ethnicity and Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Critical race theory
  • Critical race theory of power
  • hegemony
  • higher education
  • power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education


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