Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lunch Chat (10/9): Is Race Real?

Thursday (10/9) at noon in the Traditional Reading Room, 2nd floor, Bertrand Library 

We talk a lot about race and racism today, but do we have a good idea of what we're talking about? Is race a genuine feature of the world? Is it biologically real? Or is it merely a social construct — a fiction of our thought and practice? Does it have an important political reality?

Professor Michael James
To help guide us through these and other questions, we will be joined by Professor Michael James from the Political Science Department. Professor James has written extensively on race from historical, political, and philosophical angles. He is the author of the entry on Race in the prestigious and indispensable Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

James opens his recent article "The Political Ontology of Race" this way:
On November 4, 2008, America elected Barack Obama to be its first black president. Or did it? Not according to Marie Arana, whose headline in the Washington Post screamed, “He’s not Black.” Arana argues that because his mother was white, “Barack Obama is not our first black president. He is our first biracial, bicultural president.”
Is she right? Is this a useful way of thinking about race? Join us on Thursday at noon to chat about this and other fascinating and important issues in this vicinity. As usual, there will be pizza, salad, and relaxed and open conversation. Note the unusual location in the Traditional Reading Room rather than our usual Willard–Smith Library setting.