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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Administrative Theory & Praxis

For a Special Issue on
Problematizing Whiteness in Public Administration Theory

Abstract deadline
15 April 2022

Manuscript deadline
02 September 2022

Cover image - Administrative Theory & Praxis

Special Issue Editor(s)

Nuri Heckler, University of Nebraska Omaha
[email protected]

Naomi Nishi, Colorado State University
[email protected]

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Problematizing Whiteness in Public Administration Theory

According to Harris (1993), the white racial identity is a property interest that carries the weight of the law and is enforceable by the courts. Harris (1993) writes her legal argument not to make an analogy to property, but rather to argue that whiteness is property sharing attributes with other identity-oriented property like graduate degrees or professional reputations. The enforcement and protection of the property interest in whiteness is valued in public service, desired by the public, and demanded by the voters (Heckler & Mackey, forthcoming). Public administration researchers argue that white people are given exclusive property interests in their freedom of speech and association (Heckler & Rouse, 2021), advantages in organizations (Ray 2019), and federal aid that inflates the value of their real estate (Heckler, 2017). Saito (2015) extends this concept to argue that property isn’t fully recognized unless it is owned by white people. These ties between whiteness and property result not only in white privilege (McIntosh, 2008), but also in justification for white hoarding of resources in education (Nishi, 2021).

Despite literature indicating the massive influence of whiteness on public administration, and the empirical evidence of white over-representation at every level and in every sector of governance, research on the white racial identity remains largely unacknowledged, as white people in power practice color evasion (Annamma et al, 2017), which serves as the dominant in/articulations of race in the Western world (Heckler, 2017). Called an epistemology of ignorance by Mills (2007), the suppression of knowledge of the white racial identity is the default norm for most academic scholarship on racial discrimination, leaving theory largely ignorant about the powerful influences of whiteness. This fact poses the question, how can public administration understand race without understanding the dominant racial identity in Anglo-American governance. Critical scholars argue that problematization of whiteness is a means to push back on the suppression of racial knowledge and bring the white racial identity into clearer focus (Heckler, 2017). By concentrating research on the problems created by the white racial identity, rather than adopting whiteness as a default cultural assumption, scholars facilitate analysis of the most influential racial identity in public administration and society.

Critical whiteness scholarship unveiling the white racial identity is regularly published in the fields of education, sociology, psychology, nursing, social work, and the law. In this special issue, we are calling for papers that examine this whiteness and expose the white-centered epistemologies around which public administration and policy have been theorized in this journal and across the field. Papers may respond to the following prompts or focus on other ways of revealing and problematizing whiteness in public administration theory.

  • How can a critical study of whiteness and the white racial identity influence efforts to develop social equity and a more representative bureaucracy?
  • How does the white racial identity influence public service, implementation, public budgeting, street-level bureaucracy, multi-sectoral governance, public management, and other sub-fields of public administration?
  • How does whiteness influence psychological, rhetorical, and organizational processes?
  • What are the mechanisms and moderators through which whiteness impacts behavioral management, public service psychology, local government and nonprofit marketing, network management, government contracting, budgets, and other important public administration foci?
  • How does a focus on whiteness undermine efforts to amplify the efforts of BIPOC public administration researchers and practitioners?
  • What can alternative governance models that originate outside or in complement with whiteness-centered models reveal about the assumptions of public administration theory as a field?
  • How might tribal governance or international governance structures create new ways of thinking about and running a constitution in predominantly white nations?

Submission Instructions


  • April 15, 2022- Abstracts (plus references) submitted to [email protected]. Please include the following.
    • Names and affiliations of author(s).
    • Email address of corresponding author(s).
    • 500-word abstract of paper.
    • References (not counted in wordcount)
  • May 12, 2022- Notifications of decisions emailed to author(s).
  • September 2, 2022- Completed manuscripts due in the submission portal at ATP for a standard peer-review process.
  • February 17, 2023- Final Revisions due in ATP submission portal.

Please email [email protected] with questions, concerns, or requests for clarification. We look forward to working with you to help make our understanding of race in public administration theory more complete.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article

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