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Colloquium series explores race, difference

Andra Gillespie, associate professor of political science, is director of Emory's James Weldon Johnson Institute, which kicks off its Race and Difference Colloquium Series this month.

Emory's James Weldon Johnson Institute (JWJI) opens the Spring 2016 Race and Difference Colloquium Series with a lineup of top scholars exploring some of the most pressing race-related issues in the nation.

The colloquium continues the tradition of bringing national and local speakers to campus to present academic research on contemporary questions of race and difference. These free weekly talks are open to faculty, staff and students.

The goal of the speaker series is to offer a platform for sharing research into issues rising from the intersections of race and difference within a broad-based, interdisciplinary intellectual community, says JWJI Director Andra Gillespie, associate professor of political science at Emory.

"We see the series as providing a service to the wider Emory community, to make sure there is a regular gathering space for faculty, staff, students and those interested in issues of race and difference to gather to learn about the latest research," she says.

"It is the diversity of diversity that is important," Gillespie notes. "One week you might hear a political scientist talking about the carceral state, the next a talk on race and pharmacology — there are lots of issues to talk about that don't often get discussed in a campus-wide format. This is the place where we can provide exposure for the entire campus. And anybody can come."

The colloquium series is being presented in cooperation with the Emory Libraries and the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library. Partnering with the JWJI fits the Libraries' vision, which "promotes our capacity as an intellectual center transforming teaching, learning and research," says Yolanda Cooper, University librarian.

"We work toward this vision through the access and preservation of materials, thought-provoking programs, and partnerships across campus and beyond," Cooper explains.

"We are very pleased to work with the JWJ Institute, particularly on this timely colloquium series focused on race and difference, and we would like to explore further possibilities in the future."

With the new partnership, "we hope to reach and engage even greater numbers of students, faculty, and alumni in conversing candidly and routinely about race," says Kali-Ahset Amen, JWJI assistant director.

"From Allyson Hobbs' award-winning cultural historical work on racial passing to Jonathan Inda's important research on how bioscience, racial politics and inequality are intertwined, the Race and Difference Colloquium series is helping to showcase the breadth, relevance and theoretical rigor of contemporary racial scholarship," says Amen. "We think this is crucial engagement opportunity for the entire Emory community."

Included will be talks by this year's JWJI Visiting Fellows, a program supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that funds research across a spectrum of disciplines.

All sessions will be held at noon in the Jones Room of the Woodruff Library, unless otherwise noted:

Jan. 25 — Race and the Carceral State: "The Perils of Policing Reform," Naomi Murakawa, associate professor of African American studies, Princeton University. UPDATE: This session has been canceled due to the weekend's blizzard impacting the speaker's flight from New York to Atlanta. It will be rescheduled.

Feb. 1 —Race and Health Inequities: "Racial Prescriptions: Pharmaceuticals, Difference, and the Politics of Life," Jonathan Xavier Inda, professor and chair of Latina/Latino studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Feb. 8 — Asian American Histories in the South: "Racial Caricature, the Anthropomorphic Object, and the Culture of Cute," Leslie Bow, professor of English and Asian American studies, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Feb. 15 — History of Racial Passing in the U.S.: "A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life," Allyson Hobbs, assistant professor of American history, Stanford University

Feb. 22 — Psychology of Racial Prejudice: "You Are Who You Know: How Ethnic Attitudes and Interpersonal Interactions Shape One Another," Stacey Sinclair, associate professor of psychology and African American studies, Princeton University

Feb. 29 — Race and Education Policy: "Racial Disparities in School Discipline: Exploring the Role of School Desegregation and Representation in the Discipline Gap," K. Juree Capers, assistant professor in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Department of Public Management and Policy, Georgia State University, Woodruff Library.

March 14 — Education Policy and Racial Inequalities: "Why Don't More Black Students Take AP Math Courses? Racialized Tracking, Social Isolation and the 'Acting White' Hypothesis," Dania Francis, assistant professor of history, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

March 21 — Muslim Identities and Racial Stereotyping in the Media: "TBA," Muniba Saleem, assistant professor of communications, University of Michigan

March 28 — Louisiana Civil Rights History: "Pictures of a Demonstration: The Congress of Racial Equality and its Desegregation Activism in New Orleans, 1960 to 1964," JWJI Visiting Fellow Nikki Brown, associate professor of history, University of New Orleans

April 4 — Youth, Race and Crime: "The Color of Judgment Without Prejudice: Youth, Race, and Crime in the Case of the Harlem Six, JWJI Visiting Fellow Carl Suddler

April 11 — Art and Racial Protest: "Chicago's Black Arts Movement," JWJI Visiting Fellow Michelle Gordon

For more information on the spring series, visit

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