Jim Porter in royal blue shirt in front of an abstract pattern design

Jim Wynter Porter

University of Oslo Fellow in Residence

Jim Porter studies historical conceptualizations of “intelligence” as an allegedly natural human difference: how such ideas have evolved over time, how they have been justified with scientific argumentation, and how they have been adapted for educational policy. His current research specifically explores the rapid implementation of such “intelligence”-policy (and related standardized testing practices) in the years immediately following the 1954 Brown v. Board mandate to desegregate public schools. He finds that this post-Brown policy effort could readily serve to remake racism, segregation, and white educational advantage and yet was all the while mediated through the ostensibly race-neutral language of individual “ability.”

After earning his PhD in history from Michigan State University in 2017, Jim Porter was a postdoctoral fellow and researcher at the Hugo Valentin Centre, Uppsala University. He is also an ongoing participant in the “Historicizing Intelligence” project at the University of Oslo. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the National Academy of Education, and the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation. His first book, Safeguarding Whiteness, is forthcoming with Johns Hopkins University Press.