Spring 2019 SSF Events

Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America

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Martha Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History, Department of History, Johns Hopkins University

Prof. Jones will discuss her recent book, Birthright Citizens, which tells how African American activists radically transformed the terms of citizenship for all Americans. Before the Civil War, colonization schemes and black laws threatened to deport former slaves born in the United States. Birthright Citizens recovers the story of how African American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses. They faced formidable opposition, most notoriously from the US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, as Prof. Jones explains, no single case defined their status. Former slaves studied law, secured allies, and conducted themselves like citizens, establishing their status through local, everyday claims. All along they argued that birth guaranteed their rights. With fresh archival sources and an ambitious reframing of constitutional law-making before the Civil War, Jones shows how when the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, the aspirations of black Americans’ aspirations were realized.

Sponsored by the Department of History

Zombies Speak Swahili: Why Language Matters for Global Citizenship

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Jamie A. Thomas, Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Swarthmore College

More and more universities are encouraging study abroad and global citizenship. But how should students and faculty foster global study and intercultural communication? Drawing upon fieldwork in Mexico and Tanzania, this talk reveals why language and communication are crucial to cross-border collaboration and intercultural learning. The talk will explore identity and globalization in language learning and study abroad through the metaphor of the undead, with attention to the experiences of people of color in North America, as well as the Global South. It will argue that we need to consider language, in addition to race, gender, sexuality, and ability, as a key dimension of an intersectional approach to matters of identity and power.

Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities; Department of Africana Studies; Language, Literacy, and Culture Program; the Office of International Education Services

The Future of Aging in South Korea: Improving Lives through the Longevity Economy

Joo Hyung Han, Founder and President, 50+ Korean

South Korea is a ‘super aging’ society, confronting decades of accelerated longevity and steep declines in fertility. Dr. Han, Chairman of 50+ Korea, will challenge the audience to consider our futures by sharing entrepreneurial initiatives and business opportunities for Korean and Asian older adults. Working closely with both government and NGOs, Dr. Han’s leadership in the longevity economy has transformed the Korean experience of growing older in the last decade.

Sponsored by the Erickson School for Aging Studies; UMB/UMBC Doctoral Program in Gerontology; Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Health Administration and Policy; The Hilltop Institute; and the Asian Studies Program

Sex-Selective Abortion in India

Utpal Sandesara, University of Pennsylvania

Over the past 30 years, selective abortion of female fetuses has become a disturbingly routine form of family planning in India, with expert estimates of the total exceeding half a million. Countless legal and policy measures aim to curb what has widely come to be seen as a public “crisis,” but we know almost nothing about the experiences of families seeking the service or clinicians providing it. Drawing on 18 months of clinic-based fieldwork, anthropologist and physician-in-training Utpal Sandesara shines new light on the lived drama of sex selection. Taking listeners through a secretive black market, the sitting rooms of common households, and the dusty halls of government, Sandesara provocatively challenges longstanding approaches in public health. In the process, he illustrates the potential value of clinical research as a tool for understanding and addressing troubling social problems. 

Sponsored by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Health Administration and Policy

Awakening Democracy: The Catalytic Role of Higher Education

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Harry Boyte, Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy, Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Augsburg University

In a time of profound civic challenges, can higher education be a catalyst for a democratic awakening? Boyte will share evidence that it can be, including pioneering initiatives at UMBC and other institutions that are demonstrating the viability of a politics of public work that bridges divides and develops civic agency. Boyte also will discuss his new book Awakening Democracy Through Public Work: Pedagogies of Empowerment.

Sponsored by the Center for Democracy and Civic Life; Sondheim Scholars Program; Residential Life; School of Public Policy; Shriver Center; Language, Literacy, and Culture Program; Department of Political Science; Sherman Scholars Program