Two years ago, when Jeannette Jones was thinking about the theme for the upcoming Humanities on the Edge speaker series, she didn’t know how prevalent discussions on race and racial equality would be in the United States.
With race at the forefront of American thought, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s premier lecture series in the humanities will bring renewed scholarly focus to the issue with its premise, “Post-Racial Futures?”
The Humanities on the Edge series, in its seventh year, will begin Sept. 22 with a presentation by Milton S.F. Curry of the University of Michigan titled “Racial After-Images of Architecture Ideology.” It is at 5:30 p.m. in the Ethel S. Abbott Auditorium in the Sheldon Museum of Art.
Jones, associate professor of history and ethnic studies, chose the theme after listening to the rhetoric of living in a “post-racial moment” following the 2008 election of Barack Obama.
“The question mark is important, because there’s been plenty of talk about how we need to move beyond race and that we’re living in a post-racial moment, but when you look around, you see that’s not true,” Jones said. “At the same time, we have Black Lives Matter, you have Native American people who are protesting violations to their sovereignty, and the immigration discussion continues to be very racialized.”
Jones and fellow organizers assembled speakers from several humanities fields to broaden the scope of how race is thought about and approached. The theme runs parallel to the series’ goal of expanding scholarly thought within the humanities to cross disciplines.
“We wanted to bring in speakers to talk about how we see race around us, and we selected four that are really rooted in ethnic studies methodology and critical race theory,” Jones said.
Curry will speak about the built-in racism in the designs of our buildings and urban areas and how problems such as policing, housing and education have been affected by past city plans and current lack of vision.
The series will continue through April. Each speaker will be at 5:30 p.m. in the Sheldon auditorium:
Sue J. Kim, “Postmodern Fatigue: Post-Racial Fallacies,” Oct. 13. Kim, professor of English, co-director of the Center for Asian American Studies, and the Nancy K. Donahue Endowed Professor in the Arts at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, will discuss the political and media climate and whether we have moved “beyond race.” She says there is a tendency to privilege and celebrate difference, heterogeneity and multiplicity while ignoring or even exacerbating institutional racial hierarchies in the U.S. and around the world.
Alexandre Da Costa, “Towards Hemispheric Critique of the Post-Racial,” March 2. Da Costa, assistant professor of theoretical, cultural and international studies in education at the University of Alberta, will speak about how much of the academic and critical analysis of racism comes from the experience of the United States. Da Costa will attempt to take the audience into a broader understanding of racism from diverse locations throughout the Americas.
Kirsten Buick, “Slavery Makes the Woman: Historical and Racial Linkages in the Creative Practices of Mary Edmonia Lewis and Kara Walker,” April 13. Buick, professor of art history at the University of New Mexico, will discuss how slavery has been represented in artwork and will focus on representation of African-American women. She will delve into the lives of Lewis and Walker and how their artwork framed race.