Spring 2016 SSF Events

Black Ethnic Identity and Immigration: Pursuit of the American Dream

Christina Greer, Associate Professor, Political Science, Fordham University

There has been significant voluntary immigration of black populations from Africa and the Caribbean over the past few decades, which has changed the racial, ethnic, and political landscape in the U.S.  An important question for social scientists is how these “new” blacks will behave politically in the U.S.  How will they distinguish themselves or align themselves with native-born black Americans?  What are their policy preferences?  Dr. Greer’s talk explores the significance of black ethnic immigrants by investigating the political attitudes and behavior of these new populations and their effects on black politics at the individual, aggregate, and elite levels.  She argues that the differing historical paths of incorporation directly affect present day negotiations with race and ethnicity for differing groups of blacks in the U.S.

Sponsored by Center for Africana Research and Department of Africana Studies; Department of Political Science; Language, Literacy, and Culture Program; Department of American Studies; Mosaic Center for Culture and Diversity

The Long Shadow: Poverty, Privilege & Education in Baltimore

Karl Alexander, Research Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University

The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth and the Transition to Adulthood tells the story of the Baltimore-based Beginning School Study Youth Panel (BSSYP), a probability sample of typical urban children who came of age over the last decades of the 20th Century and into the first decade of the 21st.  It is an account of their social mobility from origins to destinations, framed in life-course perspective. Two characteristic mobility paths are documented, both grounded in family resources: 1) status attainment through school serves mainly to preserve middle class privilege across generations; 2) status attainment in the non-college workforce privileges lower SES whites over African Americans of like background, white men most immediately through access to high wage employment in the remnants of Baltimore’s old industrial economy and then, derivatively, to the lower SES white women who marry and partner with them.

Sponsored by the Honors College; Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program

Psychology and Policy in Contexts of Scarcity

Eldar Shafir, William Steward Tod Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University

The psychology that emerges when people do not have enough (money, time, etc.) will be considered, along with some of the behaviors — commendable as well as problematic — that emerge as a result. Some implications for policy and for the conduct of everyday life will be considered.

Sponsored by the Department of Psychology

Natural and Unnatural Disasters

Brett L. Walker, Edwin O. Reischauer Visiting Professor of Japanese Studies, Department of History, and Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University

3/11, Asbestos, and the Unmaking of Japan’s Modern World

In this lecture, Brett Walker will investigate asbestos in the construction and, more importantly, destruction of Japan’s built environment, with a focus on the impact of the 3/11 disaster and the later clean up.  Dr. Walker’s research is part of a larger Guggenheim-funded project concerned with the unmaking of the modern built world, and what it means for the future of human health.

Sponsored by the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems; Department of History

‘Everybody is So Hysterical and Panic Stricken…’: Grasping Black Power in the 20th Century

Dr. Rhonda Y. Williams is an associate professor and the first black person ever tenured in the History Department at Case Western Reserve University. She is the founder and director of the Social Justice Institute at CWRU, and the founder and director of CWRU’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in African American Studies. In April 2009, she was awarded CWRU’s inaugural Inclusion and Diversity Achievement Award. James Baldwin wrote: “I have never known a Negro all my life who was not obsessed with black power.”  And Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) stated: “Everybody is so hysterical and panic stricken because of the adjective that precedes the word power — “black.” So, what of this complicated term, “black power”? In her talk, based on her book Concrete Demands, Dr. Rhonda Y. Williams will examine some of the roots, routes, and expressions that have comprised the vigorous search for Black Power in the 20th century — both before and after the familiar popularization of the term in 1966 — and discuss why it’s still relevant today.

Sponsored by the Social Sciences Forum