An Interdisciplinary Conversation

The Griot Institute for Africana Studies at Bucknell University hosted the conference, Post-Racial America?: An Interdisciplinary Conversation, November 9th and 10th, 2012, at Bucknell in Lewisburg, PA.

If "post-racial" means to live in a space where race is no longer significant or important, we might imagine that this sort of utopian ideal would be difficult to create and maintain, given the history of racism in the U.S. Yet the election of President Barack Obama in 2008 - along with other cultural changes and events - has led many to ponder the possibility of a post-racial America. Does "post-racial" imply that race has become less determinative in American culture? If so, what are the manifestations and consequences of that change? Alternatively, is the concept of post-raciality another manifestation of the mask - a way of burying the persistence of racism under the veneer of progress, inclusion, and diversity? Given the salience of the idea of post-raciality, the Griot Institute for Africana Studies took the opportunity to gather scholars and artists to explore these and other questions at an interdisciplinary mini-conference held in the wake of 2012 election - another locus for the post-racial debate. The goal was to facilitate a generative, intimate conversation about this most public and controversial topic. 

The conference opened on Friday, November 9th, with dinner and an address from keynote speaker Professor Farah Jasmine Griffin from Columbia University.

Events continued the next day with a series of panels, chaired by Bucknell faculty and made up of guest professors such as Marcia Agustini of Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina-Brazil and Eva Tennenborn from Penn State University. These panels discussed such topics as the role and treatment of race in popular media and the effects of politics on race.

The conference closed on Saturday with dinner and jazz music.

Farah Jasmine Griffin is the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies at Columbia University. Dr. Griffin received her Ph.D. from Yale University. She is the author of Who Set you Flowin - The African-American Migration Narrative (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995) as well as If You Can't Be Free, Be a Mystery. In Search of Billie Holiday (New York: The Free Press, 2001) and Clawing at the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane and The Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (Thomas Dunne Press, 2008). Her most recent book, Harlem Nocturne: Black Women Artists and Politics in Mid-Century New York, was published by Basic Books in September of 2013.