Empire, colonialism, and the visions of race they produced predate modern nations. Linguistically linked to Renaissance animal breeding projects, the modern language of race used in Romance languages and Anglophone countries is tied to a specific history of European imperial expansion and its devastating exploitation and oppression of indigenous communities and the institutionalization of African slavery. From the vantage point of American academia, the United States’ history of race and racism seems to teach important lessons for understanding other repressive regimes across different times and places. But how unique or comparable are racisms? Is race and racism part of a universal, emergent system of oppression that produces similar results across cultures and languages? Or, is it culturally specific, produced to the most terrible effect by the legacy of European empires in the early modern period and subsequent modernity? What might be gained by thinking about comparative structures of repression through race across the globe and what local specificities might be lost if one vision of race derived from a specific national paradigm is unilaterally applied to other regions and times?
Over the course of the 2020-2021 academic year, we will host a "Comparative Race Seminar" with four guest speakers, two in the fall, two in the spring. In advance of each speaker, we will host a discussion of the scholars’ work to promote deeper engagement of the research among faculty and students who attend the workshop. These events will be open to thirty attendees across Hamilton students, faculty, and staff who will constitute a regular community of participants.
Ruth W. Lo (Architectural History) and Priya R. Chandrasekaran (Anthropology)
“Remaking the Rural” is a series of public humanities collaboration between two courses, “Architecture and the Environment,” taught by Professor Ruth Lo and “Examining Rurality” taught by Professor Priya Chandrasekaran, in Spring 2021. Until recently, scholarship on architecture and in environmental studies has focused primarily on cities. Our courses and this event series pivots towards the rural, an often-overlooked realm whose political, socioeconomic, and environmental transformations seriously affect human lives and permeate the global landscape. This interdisciplinary collaboration aims to foster rich, cross-disciplinary discussions on changes in rural territories; these might include: agricultural practices, technology farming, petroleum infrastructure, data storage facilities, solar farms, fulfilment centers, waste disposal sites, rural populism, rural identity, peasant movements, and state-sanctioned racial projects. The main event will be a forum on the topic of milk, for which we will convene scholars, local farmers, policymakers, organization leaders, artists, and/or activists to address timely topics, including, for example, how/why white nationalism in the US is being expressed through milk consumption, terroir (esp. of cheese) and class, climate impacts of dairy farming, and the infrastructure and logistics of shipping milk. As we intend to draw speakers from New York and New England (though not solely), this collaboration will also enable students and other members of our community to study, analyze, and reflect on the area around Hamilton College. Our program will involve scholars as well as local practitioners, thus linking theory with practice. We also anticipate drawing connections with the inaugural Environmental Studies senior capstone project.