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The Romance of Diversity: Institutional Rhetoric, Racial Surveillance, and Student Protest in U.S. Universities  


Pritha Prasad (Assistant Professor, English)

Must RSVP by Nov. 27.

Against a historical backdrop of 1960s-1970s Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian-American student protests that seminally forced the formation of Ethnic Studies in U.S. universities, how do we reconcile the stark disconnect between universities’ abstract commitments to “diversity” and their discomfort with embodied resistance? This talk argues that the rapid proliferation of pro-institutional “antiracist” initiatives in universities after the Ferguson Uprising of 2014 might be best understood by tracking the rhetorical life of “diversity” as a post-World War II geopolitical project. Specifically, Prasad argues that “diversity,” in romanticizing and dehistoricizing race/racism, has served as a vehicle for not only policing Black, Indigenous, and peoples of color in the university, but also for rebranding the radical aesthetic and intellectual world-making of antiracist and decolonial movements as abstract fodder for white progressivism.

  • Ayah Wakkad
  • Val Montanez
  • Silvia Park
  • Melanie Wilkins

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