Skip to main content

Conversatory on Racism Lectures:

“However much we are affected by the things of the world, however deeply they may stir and stimulate us, they become human for us only when we can discuss them with our fellows. Whatever cannot become the object of discourse - the truly sublime, the truly horrible or the uncanny - may find human voice through which to sound into the world, but it is not exactly human. We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human.”

― Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times

The Fromm Institute invites you to conversations of ideas, views and experiences on the topic of Racism in the United States. Addressing a different aspect of Racism each week, join Fromm Institute Professor Mara Kolesas in a conversation with guest speakers followed by a question and answer period with attendees. Each conversatory is designed to build on the others, however attendance at prior conversatories is not required. All events are free and open to the public, but attendance is limited. All of the "Conversatory on Racism" Lectures can be viewed on the Frommcast. CLICK HERE.

About the Moderator:

Mara Kolesas is a political theorist whose interest extend from the conceptualization of citizenship, democracy, and plurality to issues of political subjectivity, social justice, and the thought of Hannah Arendt. She received her doctorate from the New School of Social Research in New York, and has taught in Argentina, Peru, the US, and Lebanon. Committed to bringing academic insights to practical uses and social endeavors, she has worked as a strategist, institutional analyst, and consultant for organizations such as the University of California and the United Nations.

March 19,  2021 - 1:30pm

Cristina Mora - "Making Hispanics"

Cristina Mora is Associate Professor of Sociology and Chicano/Latino Studies and the Co-Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. She completed her B.A. in Sociology at Cal in 2003 and earned her PhD in Sociology from Princeton University in 2009. Her research focuses mainly on questions of census racial classification, immigration, and racial politics in the United States and Europe. Her book, Making Hispanics, was published by the University of Chicago Press and provides the first historical account of the rise of the “Hispanic/Latino” panethnic category in the United States. This work has received several awards and wide recognition, and has also been the subject of numerous national media segments. In April of 2020, Professor Mora helped to oversee the largest survey on Covid-19 and racial disparities in California. She is currently writing a book on immigration attitudes and racial politics California.

You can sign up for this lecture here here. 

Past Conversations


1/19/21 - Andrés Reséndez - "The Other Slavery"

Andrés Reséndez is a professor of history and author. His specialties are early European exploration and colonization of the Americas, the U.S Mexico border region, and the early history of the Pacific Ocean.  His latest book, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and winner of the 2017 Bancroft Prize from Columbia University. He teaches courses on food and history, Latin America, and Mexico. His next book, Conquering the Pacific: An Unknown Mariner and the Final Great Voyage of the Age of Discovery, is about the tumultuous expedition that first went from America to Asia and back, thus transforming the Pacific Ocean into a vital space of contact and exchange in 1565. It is forthcoming in September 2021.

1/22/21 - Richard Thompson Ford - "Race Card, Rights Gone Wrong, and Dress Codes"

Richard Thompson Ford is the George E. Osborne Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He has practiced law with the firm of Morrison & Foerster, served as a Commissioner of the San Francisco Housing Authority and worked as a policy consultant for the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the City and County of San Francisco, California and the County of San Mateo, California. He writes for both scholarly and popular audiences in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and Slate, where has been a regular contributor on legal affairs, as well in the Harvard Law Review, the Stanford Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. He has written several books, including The Race Card: how bluffing about bias makes race relations worse which The New York Times Sunday Book Review selected as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2008 and Rights Gone Wrong: how law corrupts the struggle for equality, which The New York Times selected as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2011. In 2012 ON BEING A BLACK LAWYER selected him as one of the 100 Most Influential Black Lawyers.  His latest book, Dress Codes: how the laws of fashion made history, will be published in February 2021. Watch the Conversation.


12/16/20 – Prudence Carter - "Racial Inequality and Education"

Prudence L. Carter is the E.H. and Mary E. Pardee Professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Berkeley. Dean Carter’s expertise ranges from issues of youth identity and race, class, and gender, urban poverty, social and cultural inequality, the sociology of education and mixed research methods. Specifically, she examines academic and mobility differences shaped by the effects of race, ethnicity, class, and gender. Dean Carter earned a Master of Philosophy and Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University. Before being named Dean at Berkeley, she was the Jacks Family Professor of Education and Professor of Sociology (by courtesy) at Stanford University. Dean Carter is an elected a member of the National Academy of Education; the Sociological Research Association; and a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the William T. Grant Foundation; and SOAR for Youth. Watch the Conversation Here.


12/7/20 - Wadie Said - "The American Police State"

Wadie Said is a graduate of Princeton University and the Columbia University School of Law, where he served as an articles editor of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of South Carolina, he was a visiting professor in the Law and Society Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an assistant federal public defender in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Florida, where he represented one of the defendants in U.S. v. Al-Arian, a complex terrorism conspiracy case. Upon graduation from law school, he served as law clerk to Chief Judge Charles P. Sifton of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and as a litigation associate in the New York office of Debevoise and Plimpton, where he helped coordinate the firm's pro bono political asylum program. Professor Said’s scholarship analyzes the challenges inherent in terrorism and national security prosecutions, covering such topics as coercive interrogation, the use of informants, law enforcement discretion and extraterritorial jurisdiction, sentencing, expert evidence, and the ban on providing material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations. His book, Crimes of Terror: The Legal and Political Implications of Federal Terrorism Prosecutions, a comprehensive legal analysis of the criminal terrorist prosecution in the United States, was published by Oxford University Press in 2015, with the paperback edition released in early 2018. He teaches courses in criminal law, criminal procedure, immigration law, and seminars on international human rights law and counterterrorism. Professor Said is an elected member of the American Law Institute, and serves on the Board of Editors of Amerasia Journal, as well as the Executive Committee of the AALS Section on National Security Law. Watch the Conversation Here.


11/30/20 - John Powell - "Othering and Economic Racial Inequality"

John a. Powell is Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute and Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He was previously the Executive Director at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University, and prior to that, the founder and director of the Institute for Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. John formerly served as the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He is a co-founder of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the boards of several national and international organizations. john led the development of an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to education, health, health care, and employment and is well-known for his work developing the frameworks of “targeted universalism” and “othering and belonging” to effect equity-based interventions. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University. His latest book is Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.  Watch the Conversation Here.


11/17/20 - Ira Katznelson - "When Affirmative Action Was White"

Ira Katznelson is Columbia University’s Interim Provost, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, and Deputy Director, Columbia World Projects. His 2013 Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time was awarded the Bancroft Prize in History and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award in Political Science. Other books include Southern Nation: Congress and White Supremacy After Reconstruction (2018; co-authored with David Bateman and John Lapinski), and Liberal Beginnings: A Republic for the Moderns (2008; co-authored with Andreas Kalyvas). Professor Katznelson, a fellow British Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. and the American Philosophical Society, is a former president both of the American Political Science Association and the Social Science Research Council. He earned his BA at Columbia College and his PhD in History at the University of Cambridge, where he served in 2017-18 as Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions. Prior to his arrival at Columbia in 1994, where he also had been an assistant and associate professor, he had taught at the University of Chicago, where he served as chair of the Department of Political Science, and the New School for Social Research, where he was Dean of the Graduate Faculty. Watch the Conversation Here.


9/8/20 - Martin Carcieri – “The Constitution and Race”

Martin D Carcieri has taught courses in Constitutional Law and Political Theory as a Professor of Political Science, San Francisco State University. He holds a J.D. from UC Hastings and a Ph.D. in Political Science from UC Santa Barbara. He has earned four teaching awards and has published twenty‐five journal articles and book chapters. His work has appeared in top journals in four disciplines, and has been cited to the U.S. Supreme Court in five landmark cases in the 21st century. His most recent book is Applying Rawls in the 21st Century: Race, Gender, the Drug War, and the Right to Die. Watch the Conversation Here.


9/2/20  - Franita Tolson – “Is there a Constitutional Right to Vote? Mechanisms of Voter Suppression”

Franita Tolson is Vice Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at University of Southern California Gould School of Law. Her scholarship and teaching focus on the areas of election law, constitutional law, legal history and employment discrimination. She has written on a wide range of topics including partisan gerrymandering, the Elections Clause, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Her research has appeared in leading law reviews, and she has written or appeared as a commentator for various mass media outlets including The New York Times, Reuters, and Bloomberg Law. Her forthcoming book, Rethinking the Constitutional Structure of Political Rights: The Evolution of Federal Voting Rights Enforcement from the Founding to the Dawn of the Progressive Era, will be published in 2021 by Cambridge University Press. Watch the Conversation Here.


8/24/20 - Rodolfo Mendoza Denton, “Racism, Stigma and Intergroup Relationships”

Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton is professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Childhood experiences living in Mexico, the U.S., Ivory Coast, and Thailand cemented an early interest in cultural differences and intergroup relations. He received his BA from Yale University and his PhD from Columbia University. Mendoza-Denton’s professional work covers stereotyping and prejudice from the perspective of both target and perceiver, intergroup relations, as well as how these processes influence educational outcomes. He received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2018, the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence in 2015, and recently completed a five-year term as Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Social Sciences. Watch the Conversation Here.


8/18/20 - Daria Roithmayr - Reproducing Racism”

Daria Roithmayr is Richard L. and Antoinette S. Kirtland Professor of Law at USC Gould School of Law. She teaches and writes about persistent structural racism in labor, housing, political participation, wealth and education. Her book Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage (NYU 2014), explores the self-reinforcing dynamics of persistent racial inequality. Her work is heavily interdisciplinary, drawing from economics, sociology, political theory, history and complex systems theory. She is currently at work on a new book, Racism Pays, which explores the way that recent innovations in the digital economy have relied on racial exploitation to get off the ground. Please register here. You will receive a reminder with the Zoom link about one hour before start time. Watch the Conversation Here.