Stanford University
Research Networks Archive

• How Do Identities Matter?

Over the past few years, a growing number of scholars in the humanities and social sciences have come together in a variety of forums to discuss the way in which identities still matter, both inside and outside the academy. Working within an academic climate that is often unreceptive to the claim that "identity" constitutes a sophisticated area of intellectual inquiry, these scholars have sought to examine identities in all their complexity, even as they indicate how identities crucially affect the ways in which scholarly work is judged both within and across disciplines. Postmodernist deconstructions of such key concepts as identity, experience, and knowledge, which initially proved theoretically productive in the humanities, have not translated into a transformation of social relations. Moreover, the indiscriminate critique of all forms of identity politics by several schools of thought on the academic left has colluded with the cynical promotion of a "color-blind" society by right-wing pundits intent on obscuring the difference that differences make.

In this graduate student/faculty workshop, scholars have moved beyond both deconstruction and dismissal, embarking on a careful reconstruction and examination of the importance of identity to a range of issues that continue to affect our diverse society. Faculty Organizers: Paula Moya (English) and Ulka Anjaria (Brandeis University)

• The Meanings and Practices of Diversity

This network examined the collective representations of multiculturalism and difference to examine the political, sociological, cultural, and historical factors shaping the public discourse around diversity. What does it mean to have a diverse school or society? What are the criteria of an effective diverse setting? What are some exemplary diverse settings or societies and why? Faculty Organizer: Hazel Markus (Pyschology)

• Revisiting Race and Ethnicity in the Context of Emerging Genetic Research

This inter-disciplinary network focused on the "genetic turn" in scholarship on human genetic variation and its implications for the study of "race" and ethnicity. Human genetic variation research -- focused on differences across human populations -- has emerged as a major trajectory in the scientific study of health and disease. However, the implications of this emerging research for our understanding of the category of "race" have not been well addressed. As a forum for inter-disciplinary dialogue, this research network offered a unique opportunity for faculty and students from a diverse range of fields including Genetics, History, Cultural Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Anthropology and Sociology to talk about concepts of “race” in the context of new information generated in the field of genetic research.  The work of this research network ultimately led to the publication of Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age (Studies in Medical Anthropology) by Sandra S. Lee, Barbara A. Koenig, and Sarah S. Richardson (Rutgers University Press, 2008).

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