Stanford advances complex study of race and ethnicity

Since 2007, Stanford has created 15 new faculty positions for emerging and established scholars whose research focuses on race and ethnicity, including a scholar who studies the connection between immigration, residential segregation and gentrification who will join the faculty in September 2017.

In recent years, as the nation has grappled with its increasing racial diversity and divisions, Stanford has created 15 new faculty positions – for emerging and established scholars – to help advance the complex study of race and ethnicity in the United States and abroad.

C. Matthew Snipp

C. Matthew Snipp, professor of sociology, is director of Stanford’s Faculty Development Initiative. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Under its Faculty Development Initiative (FDI), Stanford has hired three faculty members in the Graduate School of Education and 12 faculty members in the School of Humanities and Sciences, including an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Comparative Literature and in the School of Medicine.

Within H&S, the new faculty members are teaching and doing research in eight departments: Anthropology, Comparative Literature, English, History, Political Science, Religious Studies, Sociology, and Theater and Performance Studies.

C. Matthew Snipp, director of FDI and a professor of sociology, said faculty hired under the initiative have expanded Stanford’s teaching and scholarship in fields of critical importance to the nation – and to the Stanford students who are part of an increasingly diverse world.

“All the pressing issues of the day rotate around race and ethnicity, including globalization, transnational migration and the focus on personal differences that plays out in everything from community relations to presidential politics,” said Snipp, who also is the director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), which administers the FDI with the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity.

“Race and ethnicity are one of the ‘tectonic divisions’ in American society,” he continued. “Those divisions have been present in the country’s history since it was founded and will be ever present for the foreseeable future.”

Faculty hired through FDI describe work

Since arriving at Stanford in 2009, H. Samy Alim, a professor of education, has founded the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Language, which is affiliated with CCSRE, and the program in Race, Inequality and Language in Education at the Graduate School of Education.

“These are the kinds of institutional changes that FDI faculty are expected to bring to the university,” he said. “In that respect, we need many more faculty who work in these areas – including faculty of color – so that Stanford can meet the current demands of our nation’s changing demographics.”

Alim said his work seeks to reveal the central role that language plays in shaping our ideas about race and the role that race plays in shaping our ideas about language – a growing field known as “raciolinguistics,” which combines the innovative, cutting-edge approaches of race and ethnic studies with fine-grained linguistic analyses.

“Scholarship in raciolinguistics can inform the racialized language education debates within the increasing number of ‘majority-minority’ and immigrant communities in the United States,” said Alim, co-author of the 2012 book Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language and Race in the U.S.

“Since race is a globalized system of oppression, these explorations can also shed light on the pitfalls of multicultural education in a Europe that is struggling to meet the needs of new Muslim migrants, and the sociopolitical meanings of raciolingustic discrimination in contexts as diverse as Brazilian favelas, South African townships, the Palestinian occupied territories and the rapidly changing communities of the San Francisco Bay Area,” Alim said.

He added: “These language debates in education and politics, including the verbal battlegrounds of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, can teach us a lot about the contemporary contours of race and racism in America and elsewhere.”

Jennifer DeVere Brody, a professor of theater and performance studies who joined the Stanford faculty in 2011, said the scholarly study of race and ethnicity is important because questions about race and ethnicity permeate every aspect of our lives, including ethics, democratic elections, housing, health, life expectancy and beauty.

“My research and teaching focus on how value works in the world,” she said. “How we determine what is beautiful, meaningful and important are matters of power. In other words, what we taste, feel and think are permeated by racialized aesthetics.”

Brody, who is writing a biography of the 19th-century African American and Native American sculptor Edmonia Lewis, is also collaborating with colleagues to republish the 1976 book Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood, the only children’s book written by writer James Baldwin. The book, which is set in Harlem, focuses on the world of a 4-year-old boy. Yoran Cazac, a French artist and close personal friend of Baldwin, illustrated the 96-page book.

Diversity for children

“Recently, there has been a call for more diverse children’s books,” Brody said. “The re-publication of Baldwin’s book contributes to our understanding of which children can be protagonists by featuring black and queer children at its center.”

José David Saldívar, a professor of comparative literature who joined the Stanford faculty in 2009, said he is very excited about a new introductory seminar he will teach next spring: Batman, Hamilton and Other Wondrous Lives.

“For me, comic books like Batman, science fiction texts such as the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz and The Hamilton Mixtape by Lin-Manuel Miranda – which became Hamilton, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical – are neither prophecy nor folklore, but parables of our times,” Saldívar said.

“For instance, it’s hard to imagine reading Diaz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning sci-fi novel without seeing how the hero’s immigrant articulation of estrangement or alienation is tempered by the reality of what is biologically, physically and socially possible. Díaz’s novel evaluates which possible futures are better or worse for Oscar Wao and, by extension, for us. I am interested in teaching this introductory seminar in order to see how and why Batman, Hamilton and other wondrous lives often erupt as a blow against the world as it is,” Saldívar said.

Stanford recently hired Jackelyn Hwang, who studies the connection between immigration, residential segregation and gentrification, as an assistant professor of sociology, under the Faculty Development Initiative. Hwang, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Office of Population Research at Princeton University, will join the Stanford faculty in September 2017. Hwang, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and in sociology with honors at Stanford in 2007, earned a master’s degree in sociology at Harvard University in 2012 and a PhD in sociology and social policy at Harvard in 2015.

Current faculty members hired under the FDI

H. Samy Alim, professor of education. He directs the Program in African and African American Studies, the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Language, and the Institute for Diversity in the Arts. He is the founding director of the Race, Inequality and Language in Education program in the Graduate School of Education. His most recent book, Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language and Race in the U.S. (with Geneva Smitherman, Oxford, 2012), addresses language and racial politics through an examination of President Obama’s language use – and America’s response to it. Other books include Street Conscious Rap (1999), You Know My Steez (2004), Roc the Mic Right (2006), Tha Global Cipha (2006), Talkin Black Talk (2007) and Global Linguistic Flows (2009). His forthcoming volumes are Raciolinguistics (Oxford University Press) and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies (Teachers College Press).

Jennifer DeVere Brody, professor of theater and performance studies. Her published research and teaching focus on aesthetics, race, feminist and queer theory, black cultural studies, and film and visual culture. She is re-publishing James Baldwin’s only children’s book, Little Man, Little Man, as well as writing a biography of the 19th-century Afro-Native sculptor Edmonia Lewis. At Stanford, she has served as chair of the Department of Theater and Performance Studies. In the fall of 2016, she will become the director of the undergraduate program in the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. She has received support for her work from the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Monette-Horwitz Trust.

Corey D. Fields, assistant professor of sociology. His main interests are race, identity and culture. Within those areas, his research is driven by an interest in the role of identity – at both the individual and collective level – in structuring social life across a range of contexts. His forthcoming book, Black Elephants in the Room: The Unexpected Politics of African American Republicans, uses the experiences of African American Republicans to explore the dynamic relationship between race and political behavior in contemporary U.S. politics. The University of California Press will release the book in October. The New York Timesrecently published his op-ed piece, “What Black Republicans Care About.”

Duana Fullwiley, associate professor of anthropology. She is an anthropologist of science and medicine interested in how social identities, health outcomes and molecular genetic findings increasingly intersect. Through ethnographic research, she has worked closely with geneticists to highlight the social and ethical implications of new genetic technologies. She has studied various laboratories, institutes and health care facilities in Europe, West Africa and the United States since 1997. For the past decade she has researched the ways that American geneticists are developing personalized medicine, ancestry genetics and DNA-based forensic technologies with racial conceptions of human populations in mind. Several concerns for racial justice that arise from the intersection of these potentially revolutionary fields are scientists’ widespread sharing of donor DNA; issues of truly informed consent; systemic cultural biases of what constitutes a human population for DNA ancestry models; and the ethics of targeting minority communities for DNA-based studies on health or ancestry when that DNA is also used for forensics. Her first book, The Enculturated Gene: Sickle Cell Health Politics and Biological Difference in West Africa (Princeton, 2011), won prizes from the American Anthropological Association and the Royal Anthropological Institute. She is currently finishing her second book, Tabula Raza: Mapping Race and Human Diversity in American Genome Science.

Angela Garcia, associate professor of anthropology. Her research examines the historical and social processes through which violence, suffering and care are produced, distributed and experienced. A central concern is the disproportionate burden of drug addiction, mental illness and incarceration among low-income populations, especially Latinos. A committed ethnographer and teacher, her work combines the social sciences, the humanities and public health to elucidate the affective, bodily and structural dynamics of inequality, vulnerability and sociality. She is the author of the award-winning bookThe Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession Along the Rio Grande (University of California Press, 2010), which explores the relationship between intergenerational heroin use, poverty and colonial history in northern New Mexico. She is writing her second book, which focuses on criminal violence and the proliferation of coercive addiction treatment within Mexico’s informal sector, tentatively titled The Annex: Violence and Recovery on the Edge of Mexico City.

Alvan A. Ikoku, assistant professor of comparative literature and of medicine. He works at the intersection of literature and medicine, specializing in the study of African and African diasporic literatures, 20th-century fiction, narrative ethics, and histories of tropical medicine and global health. He is primarily concerned with literary, medical and public health discourses on Africa and its diasporas. His research situates these discourses within post-19th-century movements in world literature and world health. Currently, as part of a book project, he studies the place of the long narrative form, particularly the novel, in the emergence of global health as a modern medical specialty.

Tomás Jiménez, associate professor of sociology. His research and writing focus on immigration, assimilation, social mobility, and ethnic and racial identity. His 2010 book, Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration and Identity, draws on interviews and participant observation to understand how uninterrupted Mexican immigration influences the ethnic identity of later-generation Mexican Americans. His latest work examines how the most established individuals in U.S. society (those who are born in the United States to American parents) adjust to immigration-driven change.

Kathryn Gin Lum, assistant professor of religious studies. Her research focuses on the lived ramifications of religious beliefs and on the intersections between religion and race in America. Her 2014 book, Damned Nation: Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction, asks how widespread belief in hell influenced Americans’ perceptions of themselves and the rest of the world in the first century of nationhood. She is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Race in American History and is developing a book on the history of the “heathen” in America.

Ramón Antonio Martínez, assistant professor of education. His research explores the intersections of language, race and ideology in the public schooling experiences of students of color, with a particular focus on bi/multilingual Chicana/o and Latina/o children and youth. He examines the everyday language and literacy practices of students of color, and the ways that these practices overlap with the forms of language and literacy privileged in academic settings; the competing ideologies that inform language policy and classroom practice in urban schools, including the ways that students and teachers in these schools articulate, embody and challenge such ideologies in their everyday interactions; and the preparation of pre-service and in-service teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

Ana Raquel Minian, assistant professor of history. Her current book project explores the late 20th-century history of Mexican undocumented migration to the United States, the growth of migrant communities and bi-national efforts to regulate the border. It uses more than 200 oral history interviews, government archives, migrant correspondence, privately held organizational records and personal collections, pamphlets and unpublished ephemera, and newspapers and magazines collected in Washington, D.C.; Chicago; the San Francisco Bay Area; Los Angeles; Michoacán; Zacatecas; and Mexico City. Her book incorporates those sources to explain how undocumented life became entrenched in the United States. It is provisionally titled Undocumented Lives: Mexican Migration to the United States, 1965-1986.

Vaughn Rasberry, assistant professor of English. He studies African American literature, postcolonial theory and philosophical theories of modernity. His current book project, Race and the Totalitarian Century, questions the notion that desegregation prompted African American writers and activists to acquiesce in the normative claims of postwar liberalism. Challenging accounts that portray black cultural workers in various postures of reaction to larger forces – namely U.S. liberalism or Soviet communism – his project argues instead that many writers were involved in a complex national and global dialogue with totalitarianism, a defining geopolitical discourse of the 20th century.

Jonathan Rosa, assistant professor of education. He is a sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist whose research theorizes the co-naturalization of language and race as a way of apprehending modes of societal exclusion and inclusion across institutional domains. Specifically, he analyzes the interplay between youth socialization, raciolinguistic formations and structural inequality in urban contexts. He is the author of the forthcoming book Looking Like a Language, Sounding Like a Race: Inequality and Ingenuity in the Learning of Latinidad. In addition to his formal scholarly research, he is an ongoing participant in public intellectual projects focused on race, education, language, youth, (im)migration and U.S. Latinas/os. His work has appeared in scholarly journals including Harvard Educational Review, American Ethnologist, American Anthropologist and Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.

José David Saldívar is the Leon Sloss, Jr. Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature. He is a scholar of late post-contemporary culture, especially the minoritized literatures of the United States, Latin America and the transamerican hemisphere, and of border narrative and poetics from the 16th century to the present. In his 2012 book, Trans-Americanity: Subaltern Modernities, Global Coloniality and the Cultures of Greater Mexico, he argues for a transnational, antinational and “outernational” paradigm for American studies. In 2016, he co-editedJunot Díaz and the Decolonial Imagination, an interdisciplinary collection that considers how Díaz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction illuminates the world of Latino cultural expression and diasporic history.

Gary Segura is the Morris M. Doyle Centennial Professor in Public Policy. His work focuses on issues of political representation and social cleavages, the domestic politics of wartime public opinion, and the politics of America’s growing Latino population. He is the co-author of the 2014 book Latino America: How America’s Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation and the forthcoming Calculating War: The Public and a Theory of Conflict (Cambridge University Press). From 2009 to 2015, he was the co-principal investigator of the American National Election Studies. In 2010, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the director of the Institute on the Politics of Inequality, Race and Ethnicity at Stanford.