New Faculty Research Spotlight
“As a community-builder at heart, I center my scholarly work on bringing together people with marginalized identities from underrepresented groups.”
Part 1: My Personal Story
I would describe myself as a scholar-activist who uses research and teaching to discuss topics of social justice, advocacy, (de)centering colonialism, and (re)centering blackness and marginalized identities. My Ph.D. is in Organizational and Cultural Communication Studies.
Currently, I am an Assistant Professor of race, organizational communication, and diversity training in the Department of Communication Studies here at Texas State University. I joined the Bobcat family in January of 2020, right before the pandemic… “perfect timing,” I say jokingly!
Here’s a little personal background. I am the youngest of three (brothers, who are twins, are Drs. Jude and Julius Austin) and was raised by our parents (high school sweethearts Jude Sr. and Lorraine Austin) in Carencro, Louisiana. I played college volleyball and soccer at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton, Texas, before earning a master’s degree at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Before returning to my studies and earning a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, I played for the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team for a short time. San Marcos has ignited my passion for hiking, paddle boarding, and roller skating.
I also love spoken word poetry! My newest favorite quote is by Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history: “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” This quote is particularly meaningful because my mom always encourages me to “Let it shine.”
Part 2: My Research Story
As a community-builder at heart, I center my scholarly work on bringing together people with marginalized identities from underrepresented groups. In addition to this focus in my research, I serve as lead organizer of the #ScholarStrike Conference, which has led to other exciting collaborative projects.
We held the first African American Communication & Culture (AACC) #ScholarStrike Conference on September 8, 2020. By every account, it was a phenomenally successful virtual event with over 4,000 in attendance for the synchronous and asynchronous presentations. This conference was a direct response to the controversy regarding a lack of representation of diverse perspectives in the communication discipline and in higher education. The AACC #ScholarStrike Conference came to fruition to address and unpack this controversy. All conference content can be found on the conference YouTube channel.
Stemming from the momentum of the conference, I was inspired to put activism on paper and produce a forthcoming textbook, Communication Theory: Racially Diverse and Inclusive Perspectives. This book tracks the state of theory and theorizing in the communication studies discipline, while decentering whiteness and normative identities and (re)centering difference and the identities of marginalized and underrepresented groups. The book is meant as an intervention and radical upheaval of “traditional” communication thought and theorizing and imbeds differences of racial, cultural, physical, and gendered standpoints. This text will offer innovative conceptions of communication theory centered in/through the perspectives of African American/Black, Latinx/Chicanx, Asian American, and Indigenous/First Nations people. I and co-authors Drs. Mark Orbe and Jeanetta Sims look forward to this textbook being available in spring of 2022 through Cognella Publishing.
After the experience of organizing the conference, I wanted to serve our campus in a similar way. I partnered with the Translational Health Research Center to develop the Faculty Research and Productivity (FRAP) Network, where I serve as program director. The primary purpose of this interdisciplinary effort is to help Texas State faculty and staff gain momentum for research and productivity in a community with other scholars who study marginalized and underrepresented groups. For more information, please contact me at Jtaustin@txstate.edu.
I consider myself blessed to serve my department, university, and community as a scholar-activist and community builder. With my mom’s voice echoing in my ears to let it shine, I will continue using my scholarly focus and platform to build and organize spaces for myself and others who, as Amanda Gorman said, are brave enough to be the light.