Race, Place and Space in the Americas
Sawyer Seminar on Race, Place, and Space
In 2012-13, Rutgers University and the Center for Race and Ethnicity sponsored an exciting year-long seminar titled "Race, Place, and Space.
Directed by Professors Mia Bay and Ann Fabian, the seminar explored the interplay of social, historical, and spatial forces in configuring racial formations, identities, and experiences in the Americas. Its thematic concerns were shaped by recent work in geography, history, anthropology, urban studies, critical race theory, and ethnic studies that underscore the importance of space and place to constructions of race and ethnicity.
The seminar consisted of bi-weekly seminar meetings, each of which focused on a specific paper submitted as a "work-in-progress" for group feedback and shaping; and four conferences. Both the Works-in-Progress meetings and the conference were organized around four, six week-long, thematic units: "Scale and Racial Geographies," "Borders and Belonging," "Race, Place and Nature," and "Cities, Towns and Suburbs." The Works-in-Progress meetings exposed participants to cutting-edge work, and became a forum for interdisciplinary discussions, which grew only richer as the seminar progressed. Likewise, our conferences featured illuminating papers, and fostered lively scholarly exchanges. Participants appreciated the Seminar for featuring innovative work from across the disciplines and across the hemisphere, and for the intellectual community created among scholars from different disciplines, department, and localities.
One of the most satisfying aspects of the seminar was the opportunity it offered to set new directions for scholarly work. The seminar's broad interdisciplinary focus meant that all participants read and worked outside accustomed areas of expertise. Our conversations were fruitful and surprising. Over the next year, we will be working on a volume of essays crafted from the conference presentations and designed to capture the insights of interdisciplinary and comparative work on "Race, Space, and Place in the Americas."
We are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the John E. Sawyer Seminars on Comparative Cultures for allowing us to create a year of rich intellectual conversations and scholarly collaborations on "Race, Space, and Place in the Americas."