New faculty draw on diverse subjects and backgrounds to open eyes, challenge students

Racial aspects of art, literature, political science, psychology and sociology inform scholars’ examinations of U.S. culture.

In The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Du Bois makes a prescient declaration: “The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line.”

As the United States continues to struggle with “the problem of the color-line” in the 21st century, Stanford University’s School of Humanities and Sciences has sought to recruit faculty whose research helps advance our understanding of how race has shaped U.S. history, politics, culture and national identity.

In the last three years, the school has hired multiple faculty across varied departments whose work addresses these critical issues. Featured here are eight recent Stanford faculty hires in art and art history, English, political science, psychology and sociology. Click on each photo to read what the faculty member says about his or her work.

“Today’s society confronts problems of racial division that are in some ways more complex than those that characterized previous eras of Jim Crow and legally enforced segregation,” said Debra Satz, the Vernon R. and Lysbeth Warren Anderson Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society. “The exciting research and writing of these faculty contributes to deepening our knowledge and understanding of the obstacles to and opportunities for achieving racial equality in the U.S.”

Several of these new hires will contribute to the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. “Understanding the persistence of racial inequality and how race operates in nearly every sector of society requires multiple intellectual perspectives,” said Jennifer DeVere Brody, director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and professor of theater and performance studies. “We are thrilled to have a new interdisciplinary cohort of colleagues who can interrogate different U.S. racial formations not only in sociology and psychology, but also art and technology.”

In addition to the hires profiled in this story, Matthew Clair and Asad L. Asad, both in sociology, will join H&S in fall 2019. Asad studies how U.S. immigration policies and enforcement create social inequality and Clair researches race and the legal system. And there are more ongoing searches in history, linguistics and philosophy which will contribute to this effort.

Along with faculty at Stanford already contributing to the study of race in the U.S., this constellation of scholars will broaden the ways in which we understand how race pervades our lives and work toward solutions for the ongoing challenge Du Bois named.