In the wake of the election of Donald Trump, a man endorsed by the KKK and white nationalists around the globe, this interdisciplinary panel examines connections between the past, present and future of racial oppression and white dominance. What can we learn about this historical moment by looking to past formations of white supremacy, anti-blackness and state violence against marginalized communities? Drawing from interconnected histories of racialization in the United States, the Caribbean, the Atlantic World and Africa, these papers explore the aftermath and afterlife of slavery and colonialism in contemporary society.
Matthew W. Hughey, University of Connecticut -- “Time is of the Essence: Racial Essentialism and White Temporality”
Natasha Lightfoot, Columbia University -- “Freedom, Citizenship & Empire Under Threat: The 1855 Escape of John Ross”
Jemima Pierre, University of California, Los Angeles -- “Race in Africa?: Ghana and the Local Contours of ..................................................................................... Global White Supremacy”
Moderator: Crystal Fleming, Stony Brook University
Matthew W. Hughey is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Connecticut and a Visiting Scholar with the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University. He is most recently the author of the award-winning books, White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race and The White Savior Film: Content, Critics, and Consumption.
Natasha Lightfoot is Associate Professor of History at Columbia University. Her research interests include slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic World and the histories of the Caribbean & the African Diaspora. Her book, Troubling Freedom: Antigua and the Aftermath of British Emancipation, focuses on black working people’s struggles and everyday forms of liberation in Antigua after slavery’s end.
Jemima Pierre is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology at University of California, Los Angeles, where she also serves as the Associate Director of the James Coleman African Studies Center. She is the author of The Predicament of Blackness: Postcolonial Ghana and the Politics of Race, and is currently completing a book, Race and Africa: Cultural and Historical Legacies.
Crystal Fleming is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at Stony Brook University. She has received fellowship from the Ford Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, as well as numerous grants. Her book, Resurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France, is forthcoming from Temple University Press. In addition to her research on racism, Crystal is working on several new projects related to mindfulness, intersectionality and well-being, including a project on Black women meditators in New York.
3:00 pm Welcome by Kathleen Wilson, HISB Director
Introduction by Crystal Fleming, Stony Brook University
3:30pm Presentation by Matthew W. Hughey, University of Connecticut
“Time is of the Essence: Racial Essentialism and White Temporality”
How do variations in the perception of racial demographics and racialized notions of threat, intense emotionality, and shock together shape perceptions of time? Drawing from ethnographic observations, interviews, content analysis, and vignette deployed in all-white organizational contexts, Hughey will show how logics of racial essentialism affect whites’ sense of duration.
4:15pm Presentation by Natasha Lightfoot, Columbia University
“Freedom, Citizenship & Empire Under Threat: The 1855 Escape of John Ross”
In 1855, John Ross, a fugitive slave who fled Kentucky intending to reach Canada, instead changed course and eventually arrived at British colonial Antigua. His case unleashed a standoff between British & US authorities over the slippery classification of Ross and the questionable legality of an abolitionist nation seizing an enslaved fugitive from the vessel of a slaveholding nation. Ultimately, his journey reframes our sense of the transatlantic process of abolition, not only for its spectacular nature but also for its symbolism of the continuous struggle among former slaves for a more meaningful freedom than what was proffered by the state.
5:15pm Presentation by Jemima Pierre, University of California, Los Angeles
“Race in Africa?: Ghana and the Local Contours of Global White Supremacy”
What is the meaning of race in Africa? What is the meaning of “blackness” or “whiteness” in Africa? How do we analyze the ways that Africans continue to grapple with issues of white power and privilege? While much has been written on Africa’s complex ethnic (or “tribal”) relationships, the question of race has received little attention outside of South Africa’s unique history of apartheid. In this lecture, Pierre uses examples from her ethnographic and historical research in Ghana to show how local engagement with discourses, politics, and practices of race and racial difference and privilege occurs within a broader set of processes that expose a very recent history of imperial domination.
6:00pm Round Table discussion with Stony Brook faculty members Zebulon Miletsky, Oyeronke Oyewumi and Tracey Walters
Moderated by Crystal Fleming