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Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

David Bricker
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, March 31, 2008

Two conferences at Indiana University to address issues of race

MARCH 31, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two international conferences taking place in April at Indiana University will apply scholarly and scientific analysis to questions of race in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere.

"Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean" will bring more than two dozen scholars to IU Bloomington on April 4-5 for an interdisciplinary forum on ways in which constructions of race have influenced culture, art, politics and nation-building efforts.

On April 17-18, the Department of Anthropology will host a conference titled "Rethinking Race in the Americas: Anthropology, Politics and Policy." Eight internationally renowned anthropologists will speak on the concept of race, highlighting how discovery of the genome has directed scientists to the exploration of human variation and away from rigid categories of race. Other invited anthropologists will discuss the role that colonial history, cultural identity formation, and language have played in perpetuating traditional racial categories


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The "Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean" conference will take place in the Dogwood Room of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. in Bloomington. Keynote speakers will be: Thomas Holt, the James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African American History at the University of Chicago; and Peter Wade, professor of social anthropology at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

"This conference brings together top scholars from IU and elsewhere whose work on the African diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean has provided significant insights into contemporary political and cultural movements, as well as into the long-term strategies of nation formation throughout the region," said conference organizer Deborah Cohn, associate director of the American Studies Program and associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese.

In addition to featuring national and international experts, the conference includes presenters from IU Departments of African American and African Diaspora Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Spanish and Portuguese, English, Latino Studies, American Studies, Gender Studies and History.

Sponsors of the conference include the American Studies Program, the College Arts & Humanities Institute, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Diaspora Lecture Series. The program can be seen at

"Rethinking Race in the Americas" was organized by IU Bloomington's Department of Anthropology to celebrate its 60th anniversary of scholarship and teaching. The symposium will present recent research in the areas of socio-cultural anthropology, bioanthropology, linguistic anthropology and archeology.

Eight speakers representing anthropology's four fields will speak at the Symposium. They are: Lee Baker, Duke University; Charles Briggs, University of California-Berkeley; Jane Hill, University of Arizona; Jeff Long, University of Michigan Medical School; Deborah Poole, Johns Hopkins University; Yolanda Moses, University of California-Riverside; Ricardo Santos, National Museum, Brazil; and Laurie Wilkie, University of California-Berkeley.

Sponsors for the conference include: the Anthropology Skomp Endowment; Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs; Ruth N. Halls Lecture Fund; College Arts & Humanities Institute; International Programs; Office of the Provost; Dean of Faculties; IU School of Law; Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Center for the Study of Global Change; and Horizons of Knowledge. For more information, please see:

To speak with organizers of either conference, please contact Steve Hinnefeld at 812-856-3488 and, or David Bricker at or 812-856-9035.