Race in the 21st Century
November 5-7, 2015

As recent news suggests, the United States, despite its African-American president, is not a post-racial society in any meaningful sense. Those who study race nonetheless express the sense that the way race functions in our societies has changed over the course of the last twenty-five years. This seminar considers the politics of race in the 21st century in both the United States and around the world, asking what present-day racial struggles owe to the struggles of the past, and in what way racial strife in places like Ferguson, Missouri and the suburbs of Paris force us to rethink the way we study and write about race in the 21st century.

Recommended MFS Readings for “Race in the 21st Century”:

W. E. B. DuBois (1994 [1903]) “Of our spiritual strivings,” Chapter 1 from Souls of Black Folk. New York, Dover Thrift.

Fanon, Frantz (1994 [1965]) “Algeria Unveiled,” Chapter 1 from A Dying Colonialism. New York, Grove Press.

Fields, Karen E. and Barbara J. Fields (2012) “Introduction,” from Racecraft: the soul of inequality in American life. New York, Verso.

Obasogie, Osagie K. “Do blind people see race? Social, legal, and theoretical considerations.” Law and society review 44: 3/4, pp. 585-616.

Sartre, Jean-Paul (1995 [1948]) Selections from Anti-Semite and Jew. New York, Schocken Books, pp. 10-11, 55-58, 94-95.

Further reading:

Gonçalves, João F. (2014) “The ajiaco in Cuba and beyond: preface to ‘The human factors of cubanidad’ by Fernando Ortiz.” HAU: Journal of ethnographic theory 4: 3, pp. 445-480.

McRoberts, Omar (2015) “The rise of the public religious welfare state: black religion and the negotiation of church/state boundaries during the war on poverty,” Chapter 9 in Boundaries of the state in US history, edited by J. T. Sparrow, W. J. Novak, and S. W. Sawyer. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Mitchell, W. J. T. “Gilo’s wall and Christo’s gates,” Chapter 1 from Seeing Through Race.


Thursday, November 5

8:30 a.m.  Check-in, coffee

9:00 a.m.  Welcome and opening remarks
    Elizabeth O’Connor Chandler

9:15 a.m. Dr. Thomas Holt, “Crime and punishment in America: the historical roots of state-sponsored racial violence in the United States”

10:30 a.m.  Coffee break

10:45 a.m.  Dr. Tom Mitchell, “Seeing through race”

12:00 p.m.  Lunch (on your own)

2:00 p.m. Dr. Stephan Palmié, “The Cuban factors of humanity: reproductive biology, historical ontology, and the metapragmatics of race”

3:15 p.m.   Coffee break

3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Participant discussion groups

5:30 p.m.  Reception and dinner at La Petite Folie

Friday, November 6

9:00 a.m. Dr. Ramón Gutiérrez, “From race to racializing: new approaches to the study of racism”

10:15 a.m.  Coffee break

10:30 a.m. Dr. Omar McRoberts, “Race politics, religion, and the social welfare state”

11:45 a.m.  Lunch and report on discussion groups
    Lunch will be provided

12:15-2:00 p.m. Participant discussion groups

2:05 p.m.  Free afternoon

Saturday, November 7

8:30 a.m. Coffee and bagels

9:00 a.m. Dr. Kenneth Warren, “Race in the 21st century: same old, same old?”

10:30 a.m. Report on discussion groups

10:45 a.m. Participant discussion groups and wrap-up
   Discussion groups meet together

12:00 p.m. Adjournment