Race Matters: A Multi-cultural Perspective on the Social Construct of Race, March 2

Race Matters: A Multicultural Perspective on the Construct of Race will be a dialogue focusing on race as a social construct with the goal of better understanding how and why individuals self-identify differently than the labels imposed by the outside perceptions of others. How does society define whiteness, blackness, etc., and how do those definitions impact society? The dialogue will begin with a panel consisting of Dr. John Collins, Dr. Hlonipha Mokoena, and Dr. Silvio A Torres-Saillant, and will be moderated by Melissa Valle examining the construct of race in Brazil, South Africa, and the Dominican Republic, respectively, while integrating their personal experiences with race. Informal small group discussions will be used to explore what the panelists have shared. By listening to the way people are categorized in one country versus another, and whether or not these categories match the labels enforced in the United States, the panelists hope to encourage more sensitivity in the community in the conscious and unconscious habits of labeling others. The event will conclude with a Q&A from the audience for the panelists and moderator.

March 2, 2015
Location: Campbell Dome, Queens College

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John CollinsDr. John Collins is an Associate Professor with the Anthropology Department at Queens College and the Director of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program. Since the mid-1990s he has conducted ethnographic research on UNESCO world heritage sites, urban restoration programs, and their relationships to national histories and racial politics in Brazil.



Hlonipha MokoenaDr. Hlonipha Mokoena is an Associate Professor with the Anthropology Department at Columbia University. Her research focuses on how nineteenth-century Africans made sartorial choices that blurred this line between clothing and adornment and how these choices were captured in paintings and photographs.



Silvio Torres-SaillantDr. Silvio A Torres-Saillant is a Professor in the English Department and an Affiliated Faculty member of the Latino/Latin American Studies Program at Syracuse University. He is also the Associate Editor of the Latino Studies Journal and the founding director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. His research and teaching projects touch on race, ethnicity, diaspora, migration, imperial violence, and the tension between the ethnic and the human.


Melissa ValleMelissa Valle is a board member of the afrolatin@ forum and a Sociology Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University. She was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student award to explore how symbolic boundaries related to race, class, and gender are translated into spatial and social boundaries in a gentrifying neighborhood in Cartagena, Colombia.


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