Total Marginality: Cumulative marginality among African American students at a predominantly White institution Academic Article uri icon


  • This study examines the cumulative nature of marginality felt by African American undergraduates attending a Predominantly White institution (PWI). In-depth semi-structured interviews with ten African American college upperclassmen revealed the need for conceptualization of student marginality at PWIs. The participants detailed their exposure to varying levels of marginality in campus spaces, classrooms, course curriculum, residence halls, the community surrounding the institution, elements of their home environment, and interracial and intraracial interactions with students. This study moves beyond descriptive analyses (Feagin, Vera, & Imani 1996; Davis, Dias-Bowie, Greenberg, Klukken, Pollio, Thomas, & Thompson, 2004; Lewis, Ginsberg, Davis, & Smith, 2004) and offers total marginality as an emergent theory affirming the collective weight of marginality on student development. Recommendations for redressing total marginality are provided.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Multicultural Affairs

author list (cited authors)

  • James, M., Hall, K. K., Liles, V., Williams, T. L., & Marrero, S. M

complete list of authors

  • James, Marlon||Hall, KK||Liles, V||Williams, TL||Marrero, SM

publication date

  • January 2016