In the latest issue of Life and Letters, several faculty from the College of Liberal Arts offer their perspectives on “Rebooting Our Lives After COVID-19.” Among the faculty included are two of our Difficult Dialogues professors: Robert Crosnoe, Associate Dean of Liberal Arts and Professor of Sociology, whose Difficult Dialogues course is called “Race and Policy in the U.S.,” and Ken-Hou Lin, Associate Professor of Sociology, who teaches “Two to Tango: The Sociology of Interpersonal Relationships” for the program. Another faculty member who contributed to the article, Heather Houser, Associate Professor of English, is collaborating with the Humanities Institute on our new theme, The Humanities in the Environment/The Environment in the Humanities.
The Humanities Institute is dedicated to the process of “thinking in community.” We join in the important work of condemning and combating systemic oppression and violence based on race. Through scholarship, teaching, and public engagement, the Humanities Institute continues to work towards racial justice, equity, and inclusion.
Many of our Faculty Fellows, Difficult Dialogues faculty, and other affiliates conduct research, teach courses, and pursue projects related to anti-racism. For those who are interested in learning more about the history and implications of our current moment, we offer this partial list of resources on topics related to race, racial injustice, and anti-racist movements, centering on work by UT Humanities Institute affiliates. We also profile work by Community Sabbatical grantees, and various community resources compiled by others. We will continue to expand this list and readers are invited to send us additional entries.
Mary Angela Bock, Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and a 2014-2016 “Imagined Futures” Fellow, has published a number of articles and chapters on the police accountability movement, including “Re-Contextualizing Visual Representations: The Videos Of and About Police Accountability in Three Competing Discourses” in Discourses in Action: What Language Enables Us to Do, edited by Krippendorff and Halabi (Routledge, 2020); “Answering the Smartphones: Citizen Witness Activism and Police Public Relations” in Global Transformations in Media and Communication Research: Visual Imagery and Human Rights Practice, edited by Price and Ristovska (Palgrave, 2018); and articles on the Black & Blue Facebook pages in New Media and Society (2018); police credentials in Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism (2016); video and narrative in the courtroom in Information, Communication and Society (2016); journalistic coverage of Ferguson on social media in Cultural Studies-Critical Methodologies (2016); and the police accountability movement in Journal of Communication (2016).
Books and Articles
“Black Lives Matter and the Limits of Formal Black Politics,” in South Atlantic Quarterly (2017), by Dr. Minkah Makalani, Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Director of the John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies. Dr. Makalani is also author of In the Case of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917-1939 (The University of North Carolina Press, 2011). He also co-edited Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem (UP of Minnesota, 2013). Dr. Makalani was a Faculty Fellow in the 2014-2016 (“Imagined Futures”) seminar.
Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Duke University Press, 2015), by Dr. Simone Browne, Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies. Dr. Brown also wrote an article titled “Everyone’s Got A Little Light Under the Sun: Black Luminosity and the Visual Culture of Surveillance” that was published in the Cultural Studies Journal in 2012. She was a 2011-2013 “Public and Private” Faculty Fellow.
“Making Black Lives Matter at the (New) Nadir: The Legacy of Charles Chesnutt for Black Activism in the New Millennium,” in Inequality in North America: Interdisciplinary Critical Perspectives (Publikationen der Bayerischen Amerika-Akademie, 2017) by Dr. Shirley Thompson. Dr. Thompson is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of American Studies and author of Exiles at Home: The Struggle to Become American in Creole New Orleans (Harvard University Press, 2009). She is currently researching a book project titled “No More Auction Block for Me: African Americans and the Problem of Property” that explores the interwoven concepts of race and property value from the vantage point of African American historical memory, political economy, and expressive culture. She was a Faculty Fellow in both the 2014-2015 (“Imagined Futures”) and 2006-2007 (“Labor and Leisure”) seminars.
Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle (The University of North Carolina Press, 2009), by Dr. Laurie Green, Associate Professor in the Department of History. Dr. Green studies the politics of race and gender in the twentieth-century U.S., including social movements, and is a three-time Faculty Fellow, most recently participating in the 2016-2018 “Health, Well Being and Healing” seminar. She is coeditor of Precarious Prescriptions: Contested Histories of Race and Health in North America (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and is currently engaged in a book project on the War on Poverty titled “The Discovery of Hunger in America: The Politics of Race, Malnutrition and Poverty, 1965-1975.”
Violence, Restorative Justice & Forgiveness (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018), by Dr. Marilyn Armour and Dr. Mark S. Umbreit. Dr. Armour, Professor and Director of the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue (IRJRD) at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, studies the healing of victims, offenders and the community after crime and wrongdoing. She has served as a Faculty Consultant for the Community Sabbatical Research Leave Grant Program on a number of grantee research projects including Gabriel Solis’s recent project, “Documenting Narratives of Violence & Building Community-Based Archives of Survival” (see below).
African-American Political Psychology: Identity, Opinion, and Action in the Post-Civil Rights Era (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), edited by Dr. Tasha Philpot and Dr. Ismail K. White. Dr. Philpot, Associate Professor of Government, contributes several chapters to this book. She is also the author of Race, Republicans, and the Return of the Party of Lincoln (University of Michigan Press, 2007). She has taught several Difficult Dialogues courses, including Black Women and Politics and African-American Women and the Struggle for Political Incorporation.
Kwaito Bodies: Remastering Space and Subjectivity in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Duke UP, 2020) by Dr. Xavier Livermon, Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies. Dr. Livermon studies the intersection of popular culture, gender, and sexuality in post-apartheid South Africa as well as African diaspora and African cultural studies, Black popular music, Black performance, Black Queer Studies, and HIV/AIDS. Articles from his second book project, Queer(y)ing Freedom: Construction Black Queer Belonging in South Africa, have been published in GLQ; Gender, Place, and Culture; and Feminist Studies. He was a 2014-2016 “Imagined Futures” Faculty Fellow.
The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages (Cambridge UP, 2018), by Dr. Geraldine Heng. Dr. Heng is a Professor in the Department of English, a founding co-director of the UT Humanities Institute. Her research considers literary, cultural, and social encounters between worlds, and webs of exchange and negotiation between communities and cultures, particularly when transacted through issues of gender, race, sexuality, class, and religion.
Purchasing Whiteness: Pardos, Mulattos and the Quest for Social Mobility in the Spanish Indies (Stanford UP, 2015), by Dr. Ann Twinam, Professor of History. Purchasing Whiteness has received a number of best-book awards, including the Albert J. Beveridge Award (American Historical Association, 2016). Dr. Twinam workshopped this book in the 2011-2013 “Public and Private” Faculty Fellows Seminar.
The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority (Princeton UP, 2015) by Dr. Madeline Hsu, Professor of History. This is an award-winning text on the history of racism in the United States, particularly in respect to Chinese and Asian American racial identity. Dr. Hsu participated in the 2014-2016 “Imagined Futures” Faculty Fellows Seminar.
“A Long Way to Go: Collective Paths to Racial Justice in Geography,” by Caroline Faria, Bisola Falola, Jane Henderson, and Rebecca Maria Torres in The Professional Geographer (2019). Dr. Caroline Faria and Dr. Rebecca Torres, both affiliated with the Department of Geography and the Environment, were Fellows in the 2016-2018 “Health, Well Being and Healing” and 2018-2020 “Narratives Across the Disciplines” seminars, respectively. In the 2016-2018 seminar, Faria workshopped “A Darling of the Beauty Trade: Race, Care, and the Imperial Debris of Synthetic Hair,” co-authored with Dr. Hilary Jones, which appears in Cultural Geographies (24 July 2019, online). In the 2018-2020 seminar, Torres shared her recent article, “A Crisis of Rights and Responsibility: Feminist Geopolitical Perspectives on Latin American Refugees and Migrants” (Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 2018).
“Medical Education and the Challenge of Race,” by Dr. John Hoberman in Teaching Health Humanities (Oxford University Press, 2019). Dr. Hoberman, Professor of Germanic Studies, has written several books about racism in sports and medicine, including Black & Blue: The Origins and Consequences of Medical Racism (U of California Press, 2012). He presented similar material in the 2016-2018 “Health, Well Being, and Healing” Seminar, and teaches The Racial Dimensions of Medicine at UT’s Dell Medical School and the new Difficult Dialogues course, The Origins of Political Correctness (Fall 2020).
Slave Sites on Display: Reflecting Slavery’s Legacy through Contemporary “Flash” Moments (U Press of Mississippi, 2019) by Dr. Helena Woodard, Professor of English. Dr. Woodard studies African-British and African-American writing, memory, and culture. Her time in the 2005-2006 Faculty Fellows Seminar on Remembering and Forgetting; Collecting and Discarding influenced her aforementioned book.
Podcasts, Journalism, and Performances
“Sorrow as Artifact,” the inaugural episode of the Transforming Anthropology podcast, features Dr. Christine Smith. Dr. Smith is Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Anthropology, the Director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, and author of Afro-Paradise: Blackness, Performance, and Violence in Brazil (University of Illinois Press, 2016). She served as a guest editor of Sorrow‐as‐Artifact: Radical Black Mothering in Times of Terror, a special issue of Transforming Anthropology (24:1, 2016), which she discusses in the podcast. She is a staff reporter for The Center Square, which has published recent pieces on the Black Lives Matter protests in the state of Pennsylvania. As a Difficult Dialogues faculty member, Dr. Smith has taught Gender/Race, Policing and Incarceration.
Comment on Maternal Mortality and Racial Inequities, by Dr. Jewel Mullen. Jewel Mullen, M.D., MPH, is the Associate Dean for Health Equity at the Dell Medical School, as well as an Associate Professor in the Departments of Population Health and Internal Medicine. She has been a presenter at and active participant in the Humanities Institute’s Health Humanities Research Seminar. This commentary was published in the American Journal of Public Health (April 2020).
“Talking About Racism with White Kids,” by KJ Dell’Antonia (The New York Times, 2014), featuring an interview with Dr. Rebecca Bigler, Professor Emerita in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Bigler’s research on the causes and consequences of social stereotyping and prejudice, particularly based on gender and racial attitudes, among children includes a chapter in Equity and Justice in Developmental Science: Implications for Young People, Families, and Communities (Elsevier, 2016) on “Children’s Intergroup Relations and Attitudes” and has been featured in a number of media outlets. Dr. Bigler has taught several courses in the Difficult Dialogues program, including Gender and Racial Attitudes.
“Lessons of a Flag Flap” (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 12, 2014) by Dr. Jennifer M. Wilks. In this 2014 op-ed Dr. Wilks discusses the appropriate way to respond when called out for racist behavior (whatever the intent behind it). Dr. Wilks is an Associate Professor of English, the Associate Director of the John L. Warfield Center of African and African American Studies, and the author of Race, Gender, and Comparative Black Modernism (2008). She was a 2008-2009 (“Ethical Life in a Global Society”) Faculty Fellow and served as the discussion leader of the Controversy and Conversation program’s screening of I Am Not Your Negro (2016) earlier this year. (The film I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck’s vision of James Baldwin’s manuscript, “Remember This House,” can be viewed on Amazon Prime and is available for free through APL’s and UT’s streaming platform, Kanopy.)
(Re)current Unrest (2016), choreographed by Charles O. Anderson, MFA, an Associate Professor in the Departments of African and African Diaspora Studies and Theatre and Dance. (Re)current Unrest, which was workshopped in the 2018-2020 (“Narrative Across the Disciplines”) Faculty Fellows Seminar, is an investigation of legacy, authorship, and the history of black art and protest. Professor Anderson’s interests include African Diaspora and African American vernacular and concert dance history, Black dance aesthetics, Afrocentric dance pedagogy, choreography and dance composition, contemporary dance, Afrofuturism, and critical race theory in dance. You can also read about the important work he is doing through The Reparations Initiative on his web site (and can make a contribution HERE).
The Mamalogues (Color Arc Productions, 2019) by Dr. Lisa B. Thompson. Dr. Thompson’s latest play depicts the lives of single black mothers, with a striking emphasis on fear for the safety of their sons. Dr. Thompson is Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and the author of Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class (University of Illinois Press, 2009) and a number of other plays that address the impact of violence against African Americans. She was a 2016-2018 (“Health, Well Being and Healing”) Faculty Fellow, and workshopped The Mamalogues in the seminar.
“sista docta” (Blackademics TV, 2012), a performance by Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones. In “sista docta,” Dr. Jones “combines poetry, dance and drumming to illuminate her experience as an African American woman professor in a predominantly white and male academy.” She examines the implications of the performance in “‘sista docta’: Performance as Critique of the Academy,” in TDR: the Drama Review 41 (2) (MIT Press, 1997). Dr. Jones is Professor Emerita of African and African Diaspora Studies and the author of Theatrical Jazz: Performance, Àse, and the Power of the Present Moment (2015). Together with Dr. Charlotte Channing, she taught the Difficult Dialogues course Talking About Race Through Performance.
HI Community Sabbatical Research Leave Projects
Through our Community Sabbatical Research Leave Program we have worked alongside a number of Community Non-Profits doing anti-racism work in Austin. Please consider donating to these organizations and spreading the word about their work.
Texas After Violence Project (TAVP). The Texas After Violence Project is a community-based archive and documentary project focused on understanding the impacts of state-sanctioned violence on individuals, families, and communities. Gabriel Solis (a 2018-2019 CSRL grantee), who also led our Controversy & Conversation Film Discussion on the film Do Not Resist (2016), focused his research on the impact of documenting personal stories of trauma connected with the American justice system in order to have a restorative effect on victims. (Through the lens of the Ferguson, MO protests following the death of Michael Brown, the film, Do Not Resist, examines current policing in America and looks to its future. Read a recent blog post on the C&C screening and Mr. Solis’s discussion of the film, which is available for rent through Amazon Prime.)
Learn how to support the work of TAVP and/or make a contribution HERE.
People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources (PODER). PODER’s mission is to redefine environmental issues as social and economic justice issues, and collectively set their own agenda to address these concerns as basic human rights. Furthermore, they aim to increase the participation of communities of color in corporate and government decision making related to toxic pollution, economic development and their impact on Austin’s neighborhoods and beyond. Susana Almanza (a 2018-2019 CSRL grantee) is the Executive Director of the nonprofit. Her project focused on documenting the loss of low-income housing in East Austin by conducting quantitative analyses on demographic and cost-of-housing data to ascertain if and how low-income housing has been impacted in the areas affected by the East Riverside Corridor Master Plan.
Learn how to support the work of PODER HERE.
Texas Fair Defense Project (TFDP). Texas Fair Defense Project focuses on improving the state’s public defense system and challenges current Texas policies that prevent citizens from defending themselves legally. Andrea Marsh (a 2011-2013 CSRL grantee and current faculty member in the School of Law) is the founder and former Executive Director of the nonprofit. Her project focused on researching and developing a model for providing holistic criminal defense representation in Texas. Professor Marsh, a 2018-2020 “Narrative Across the Disciplines” Faculty Fellow, also led our Controversy & Conversation Film Discussion on the film The Central Park Five (2012). (Ken Burns’ film documents the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989. The Central Park Five is available through Kanopy for APL and UT communities, and on Amazon Prime with a subscription.)
Grassroots Leadership – Grassroots Leadership is a local community based activist group focused on fighting mass incarceration, private prisons, mass deportations, prison profiteering, and criminalization of all communities. They are currently fighting against the lack of COVID-19 resources in Texas prisons and are also involved in protests against police violence in Austin. Rocio Villalobos (a 2011-2013 CSRL Grantee) focused her research on developing a series of oral history and writing workshops designed to help the women released from the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, record and safely share their stories and experiences. The Hutto Visitation Program is a project of Grassroots Leadership, Texans United for Families, and the Social Justice Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. Ms. Villalobos worked on this project with Dr. Shannon Speed, whose book, Incarcerated Stories: Indigenous Women Migrants and Violence in the Settler-Capitalist State (University of North Carolina Press, 2019) was recently published. (Dr. Speed, currently at UCLA, was a member of the Difficult Dialogues faculty when she was on the Anthropology faculty at UT.)
Foundation Communities – Foundation Communities is a local, homegrown nonprofit founded in 1990 that provides affordable, attractive homes and free on-site support services for thousands of families, veterans, seniors, and individuals with disabilities in Austin. These on-site support services include assistance and resources in the areas of education, financial stability, and health. Julian Huerta (a 2006-2007 CSRL Grantee) focused his research on finding strategies to improve and expand supportive housing opportunities for homeless families with children and those at-risk of homelessness in Austin. At the time, this was a very new population for Foundation Communities, and Huerta took away best practices around program design, case management and funding, many of which still influence Foundation Community’s Children’s HOME Initiative today.
Other Resources through UT Centers and Initiatives
This is but a partial list of resources available at the University of Texas at Austin, with an emphasis on work produced by Humanities Institute affiliates. We would also like to point the reader to additional units at UT that have developed or are working on similar resources:
Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the LBJ School for Public Affairs hosted “Justice and Equity in Austin in a Time of National Crisis: a Community Conversation”, a virtual public forum with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Austin Council Members Alison Alter and Natasha Harper-Madison. The conversation was co-moderated by the Center’s founding director, Dr. Peniel E. Joseph, a Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts. He is the author of many current issue op-eds and the new book, The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Basic Books, 2020), among others. The other co-moderator of the forum was Professor Jeremi Suri, also of the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Department of History. In addition to being the author of nine books on contemporary politics and foreign policy and articles in a number of major newspapers and magazines, Dr. Suri is the host of a UT Podcast, This is Democracy. The podcast, now with 100 episodes, aims to “bring diverse (and often ignored) voices together to discuss the steps we are all taking to renew our values, institutions, and humanity in general.” (On the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy’s web site, you can find information on additional books and lectures on anti-racism and racial justice.)
Engaged Scholar Initiative: A Texas Model (ESI), an initiative of the UT College of Liberal Arts funded by the Mellon Foundation, has compiled a “range of resources, including ways to materially contribute, mental health and anti-racist resources, and further reading about local and state histories of racial injustice.” The list of resources and a solidarity statement by ESI Director, Dr. Mia Carter, can be found HERE. Dr. Mia Carter is Associate Dean for Student Affairs, and Associate Professor and University Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor in the English Department at the UT College of Liberal Arts.
Dr. John Hoberman discusses racial bias in the practice of medicine and medical education
By John Carranza
How has the Western legacy that divides human beings into distinct racial categories affected the practice of medicine in the U.S.? Today’s secular classification of race is grounded in the study of human anatomy. In the late 19th-century, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a professor of medicine, measured a variety of human skulls, from which he ascertained five racial classifications: Caucasian, Mongolian, Malayan, Ethiopian, and American. The simultaneous colonization of the Americas, driving and driven by these racial classifications, solidified the privileging of white colonists over colonized populations, engendering a racial folklore of white superiority that has been handed down through generations.