I'm writing a paper on the Front de Liberation du Quebec; a homegrown Quebec terrorist organisation in the 1960s. As research, I've extensively studied a book by one of the intellectual leaders of the organisation Pierre Vallières called 'White (n-word)s of America'. Given the rather alarming title, how might I properly cite quotes from the book?
It is what it is. You aren't responsible for that. I suggest that you cite it as you would any other work. Presumably you aren't endorsing racist views.
You aren't being "kind" by hiding history. The people targeted by such words know they exist, their meaning, and the intent in their use. Scholarly discussions don't contribute to racism unless they are specifically designed to do so.
Treat words as words. Treat people as people.
If you feel you must, then put a footnote somewhere disassociating yourself from racist views.
Please see: The Idea That Whites Can’t Refer to the N-Word.
An academic paper published in 2017 had to deal with this issue because it examined this exact work. "The Struggle of Others: Pierre Vallières, Quebecois Settler Nationalism, and the N-Word Today" by Bruno Cornellier was published in Discourse, vol. 39, no. 1, 2017.
In the notes Cornellier states:
I explain later in the essay the reasons I decided to redact both the English and French versions of the N-word from this essay, with the exception of parsimonious references to the full titles of the book (in French and English translation), for citational purposes only, in endnotes and once in my introduction
So the standard Cornellier sets here is to redact the slur in the text of the piece, while leaving it in the citation.
The explanation alluded to in the above note is found on page 35
Before I proceed with my analysis of Vallières’s text as a textual trace (then and now) of such hegemonic settler structure of feeling, I must offer clarifications about my use of terminology. Vallières’s own admission that he actually meant the English N-word—and not what is often defended by French speakers to be the less derogatory and more acceptable French word nè***—explains in part why I decided to redact both the French and English versions of the N-word from this essay. Indeed, French users of the term have too often found solace in the convenient ambiguity provided by the French language between, on the one hand, the inflammatory and unequivocal N-word and, on the other, something assumed by white Francophone speakers to be less so by attaching the word nè*** to something that would be more akin to the antiquated English term “Negro”—or, by any measure, to mean nè*** as a term that could be used to mean the English N-word but not necessarily. My decision to redact all uses of the term is not an attempt to sanitize Vallières’s text à la recent editions of Huckleberry Finn, nor am I necessarily requesting that further reeditions of Vallières’s text also be altered accordingly. Rather, I do so in solidarity with black colleagues and other critical race scholars who have asked that I better situate myself, as a white Quebecois settler, in relation to this term but also to take a stand against the cavalier alibi found by my fellow white Francophone Quebecois seeking immunity in the (French) language they use to produce and designate blackness for themselves and without black people. In other words, I consider such strategic recourse to the ambiguity of the French word nè*** a way for white Francophone Quebecers to use or imply with ease—when convenient—the N-word and get away with it.
My interpretation of this paragraph is that it is the redacting of the French form that is explained, without noting why its unredacted in the sources, implying that may be an editorial standard that doesn't need discussion.
If it helps, at the time of this post, this particular work has been cited 210 times (per Google scholar) so you have 210 examples of what other academics have done when citing this book. My own view is that it is preferable to state the title without redaction, but redaction might also be acceptable so long as the citing author clearly states that the title has been redacted. Whilst practices may differ from field to field, I know that in the field of linguistics ---where scholars commonly deal directly with racial slurs (e.g., examining their etymology, history, etc.)--- the standard practice is to state the word under use without censorship. (In that particular field they also tend to italicise the word under discussion, but that it not relevant here.)
One issue of possible importance here is that the slur in the title is important in identifying the class of people that the book is about, so a full redaction is going to entail a genuine loss of information about the subject of the book. In some cases a slur word in the title of a work is not important in conveying information about the content of the work, but that is not the case here. If the subject of the book is "white niggers" and you change this to "white [racial slur]s" (as suggested by another answer here) then the scope of the subject matter of the book arguably becomes unclear. One possibility is to use partial redaction of the form "white [n----rs]" or "white [n-word]s" (the latter being your suggested formulation), which blunts the slur but allows the reader to "guess" the original word and so properly understand the scope of the book. That is probably a reasonable redaction if you choose to proceed by that route.
Personally, I would not do any redaction; my view is that it is useful in academia to create an atmosphere where adults can engage in open discourse about topics, without falling apart if they hear a nasty word. This is encouraged by citing works like this without redaction. In any case, if you decide to fully or partially redact the original slur word in the title, you should make sure that the reader understands that this is your edit. Using square brackets for your redaction, plus an explicit statement alerting the reader to the redaction (e.g., "[Title partially redacted]") will be sufficient to ensure that you are not misleading your reader about the true title of the work.
Maybe sic would help here:
The Latin adverb sic ("thus", "just as"; in full: sic erat scriptum, "thus was it written") inserted after a quoted word or passage indicates that the quoted matter has been transcribed or translated exactly as found in the source text, complete with any erroneous, archaic, or otherwise nonstandard spelling, punctuation or grammar. It also applies to any surprising assertion, faulty reasoning, or other matter that might be interpreted as an error of transcription.
The typical usage is to inform the reader that any errors or apparent errors in quoted material do not arise from errors in the course of the transcription, but are intentionally reproduced, exactly as they appear in the source text. It is generally placed inside square brackets to indicate that it is not part of the quoted matter.
Sic may also be inserted derisively or sarcastically, to call attention to the original writer's spelling mistakes or erroneous logic, or to show general disapproval or dislike of the material
(note: Take into account https://academia.stackexchange.com/users/25/noah-snyder comment, I know nothing about writing papers in Humanities context)
While looking at things like Vallières' book, I think it's important not to be projecting 21st century American values onto a situation in early/mid 1960s Quebec.
As the 1960s started in Quebec, the frustration of the majority French-speaking population with the economic and political situation in the province and in Canada began to boil. Since the British takeover 200 years earlier, economic and political power were concentrated in the hands of English-speaking businessmen.
After Maurice Duplessis died in 1959 and the Union National was defeated by Jean Lesage's Liberals in 1960, there was a feeling that change was coming. To some, though, change wasn't coming enough.
From what I remember (I was in grade school at the start of the Quiet Revolution, but politically aware by the time the October Crisis arrived), Vallières's intent with that title was poke a stick in the hornet's nest, not to be racist.
The book came out in 1968, at the peak of the civil rights movement in the US. Vallieres definitely wanted attention, he wanted to offend, but did not want to offend others who were part of the "struggle". It was intended to signal that he felt that the cause of French Quebec had echoes of the US civil rights movement. Others identified with the struggles of blacks in southern Africa (in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa). The situation in Rhodesia was often cited (white farmers in Rhodesia owned most owned most of the land and controlled the economy).
You can see this in the symbol that "Westmount" became. Westmount is an inner-city suburb of Montreal - if you walk across the street from the old Montreal Forum (downtown, where all those Stanley Cups were won), you are in Westmount. Upper Westmount is also where rich English businessmen traditionally have their mansions. In the 60s, Westmount and Rhodesia became synonyms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpDV2E6dKLg. When the FLQ planted bombs in mailboxes, Westmount was a favorite target.
Before I moved the US, I new that race was an important topic here. It was only after I immigrated 30 years ago, though, that I understood how race shapes a significant portion of American history and contemporary American society.
If you grew up in Montreal (particularly if you are my age and lived through the 1960s and 1970s there), you understand how language shapes Quebec history and contemporary Quebec society. Yes, the domination of the French-speaking majority by a small English-speaking business class doesn't compare to slavery, but it can define a "struggle".
Throwaway for obvious reasons:
a homegrown Quebec terrorist organisation in the 1960s.
I would thread carefully here; the judicial system does not agree with the label you used. That might stir more controversy than the choice of words you end up using to quote a text. And of course discredit you, your advisor and your lab quite badly. Of course, if you possess new evidences, the police would be the correct place to disclose it, not an academic paper. But unless you are capable of obtaining a conviction, I would abstain from such a term.
As for your question, that highly depends on your audience and who you are. If it's an undergrad paper that will only be read by your professor just ask him, otherwise it's best to bring it up with your advisor. Ultimately, he or she should know enough about the field and the journals to know what's appropriate.
It should be the case that a published title is an established fact, to be debated on its merits. That's supposed to be a crucial part of the difference between academia and the mundane.
Since in today's world, politics has become at least as important as any kind of research, you should be taking this Question and all its ramifications up the chain of command in your department particularly, as well as to your institution generally.
Right or wrong, both either have or badly need detailed procedures for this hugely important Question.