UC Berkeley press release


Scholars meet to discuss the "Making and Unmaking of Whiteness" in a public forum at UC Berkeley April 11-13

by Patricia McBroom

Berkeley -- In the first meeting of its kind, the study of whiteness will come under academic scrutiny at a three-day conference, which is free and open to the public, at the University of California at Berkeley on April 11 through 13.

Scholars from many fields throughout the country will bring together their work in "white studies" for the conference. Titled "The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness," it is sponsored by UC Berkeley's Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies.

The event reflects a growing interest in understanding whiteness both as a specific race and as a social category which has played a central role in perpetuating inequality.

Partial titles from some of the approximately 30 speakers are provocative: "The Yiddish are Coming," "You're Stealing my Soul," "The Not-So-Great White Way," "How 'Gay' Stays White," and "Loss of Privilege Inside White Working Class Masculinity in the 1990s.

Among the sociologists, historians, anthropologists and literary and cultural critics who will speak at the conference are:

--Alexander Saxton, professor emeritus of history from UCLA, who wrote the 1990 book, "The Rise and Fall of the White Republic."

--David Roediger, University of Minnesota historian, whose major work in the area is titled "The Wages of Whiteness."

--Michael Rogin, UC Berkeley professor of political science, who recently published "Black Face, White Noise."

-- Cheryl Harris, visiting professor of law at UCLA, whose recent article in the Harvard Law Review called "Whiteness as Property" is considered influential.

The conference format, which is divided into three sequential panels on each day, is designed to encourage discussion among participants and members of the audience. It will take place in the Lipman Room on the eighth floor of Barrows Hall on campus, beginning at 9 a.m. on April 11 and ending with a bag lunch on April 13. UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster will give the closing remarks.

For information, contact Birgit Rasmussen at (510) 845-1939 or Matt Wray at (510) 658-7584. A web site for the conference is: http://violet.berkeley.edu/~ethnicst/conference/main.html.

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