American Cultures and Global Contexts Center

2021-2022 Events

Art: Enrique Chagoya, Shark’s Ink, Illegal Alien’s Guide to the Concept of Relative Surplus Value, 2009, color lithograph on Amate paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, 2010.26, © 2009, Shark’s Ink

This year we learn from and build upon the global imagination of racial justice. Through smoke-filled skies, 2020 lights up a clear vision as protest and pandemic strip power to its barest forms. I can’t breathe is the cry of Black Americans pushed to the pavement by the racist force of police violence. It is the cry of protesters in the streets assailed by tear gas and rubber bullets. It is the cry of people hospitalized and killed by self-serving government inaction, as COVID-19 takes a disproportionate toll on Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. It is the cry of firefighters and prisoners on the front lines of fires driven by climate change and the communities devastated in their wake. The essential among us and the most vulnerable are made expendable as nurses and doctors lack access to basic protective equipment, factory workers labor without proper safeguards, agricultural and food industry workers feed the nation under constant threat of arrest and deportation, and prisoners and asylees are denied basic human rights. Oligarchy sustains only itself, beggaring the people while proto-fascism obscures the potential for class solidarity. 

Like the pandemic, racist oppression respects neither scale nor border. A global imagination of racial justice addresses racist dynamics in our proximate lives and institutions as well as their broader, transnational manifestation in the neocolonial privilege of U.S. empire. A global imagination of racial justice also supports the revolutionary transformations in our most immediate communities and across the far reaches of the globe in the unprecedented awareness and solidarity of people and their determination—through ingenuity, vision, and care—to chart a path forward.

If white privilege is the privilege not to engage with historic, systemic, and structural racist oppression, a privilege in which we all have a different share, racial justice requires that we engage with this oppression by understanding and confronting it in the academic and social worlds we inhabit. ACGCC welcomes you to cultivate this engagement through artist talks, coursework, lectures, and reading groups at the nexus of race, class, and coloniality. Centering art, creative imagination, and literary politics, our 2020–2022 programming bridges ethnic studies as well as postcolonial and decolonial critique. What inspires us to hope and action in these disheartening times? Where can we find language and ideas that sharpen thought and motivate praxis? How can we create a common social agenda out of our different histories, identifications, experiences, and investments? The charge is great and demands critical sensibility and creative strategy. We invite you to join us in study, reflection, and conversation as we seek to build common ground from which to meaningfully address our collective present. 

Spring 2022

For more information on the symposium, visit The Global Imagination of Racial Justice: Coalition, Comparativism, Community

Winter 2022

Fall 2021